Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile

My latest read is Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells. It’s a great addition to any libraries that serve upper elementary and middle grade readers.

This first book in the Eddie Red Undercover series is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Children’s Book Award. (See the full list of nominees here.) This is only the third book on the list I’ve read–the others are The Iron Trial and Rain Reign–and I liked it more than I anticipated. It’s an easy, entertaining read with a cool mystery and a diverse cast of characters. The main character’s voice really shines through and makes the story even better. I think that many of my students will adore this first Eddie Red adventure, and they’ll definitely be on the lookout for more stories.

Edmund Xavier Lonnrot is not a typical sixth-grader. He has a photographic memory and the ability to draw nearly anything that passes through his field of vision. This gift comes in especially handy when Edmund and his dad are witnesses to a crime. Edmund is able to show the police exactly who and what he saw, and this ability gives the police an idea. Maybe they can use Edmund to help catch a notorious gang of art thieves.

It takes a bit of convincing, but Edmund’s parents finally agree to let him help the cops…as long as he’s not placed in any danger. And that’s how “Eddie Red” comes to be. Working undercover at various museums on the famous Museum Mile in New York City, Eddie Red takes note of any and all faces he sees and passes his notes and drawings along to the cops. Some people seem familiar, but, for the most part, Edmund’s job is kind of boring…at first.

Edmund knows he could figure things out if he had more information and a bit of help, so that’s exactly what he gets. He uses his photographic memory to take mental snapshots of the case files, maps, etc., and he works with his hyperactive best friend, Jonah, to piece together this confusing puzzle. But how can two kids hope to solve this mystery when the cops are stumped?

Never underestimate a couple of genius-level sixth-graders with a mystery in front of them…

Edmund and company are getting closer and closer to discovering the truth, but danger is also making its way nearer to Edmund. He could be headed for more trouble than he ever anticipated. What is Edmund to do?

Will Edmund give up his quest for the truth and ensure his own safety? Or will Eddie Red throw caution to the wind, try to expose the bad guys, and put himself in the line of fire? What would you do?


I look forward to talking to my students about this wonderful book. Edmund’s voice is spot-on and reminds me a bit of Percy Jackson in Rick Riordan’s fabulous books. He’s sarcastic, exasperated, and a totally realistic example of a sixth grader in the modern world. Even though I’ll be promoting Eddie Red Undercover to third-fifth graders, I have a feeling many of them will relate to Edmund’s thoughts and experiences.

Eddie Red Undercover is also an excellent choice for promoting diverse books. Edmund is a young African-American boy living in New York. His best friend is red-headed, Jewish, and has both ADHD and OCD. Edmund’s supervising officer is a large, rather hard-nosed, Italian man. And those are just the main characters in this book. The supporting cast is equally diverse and is a much more accurate snapshot of American life—particularly in New York City–than other similar stories.

Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile will not be a hard sell to readers who like a good mystery. It’s an enthralling read that will make readers of any age eager to turn the page. But this book is not just a mystery. It’s also full of humor, interesting facts about art, self-defense, and even things like geometry and chess. There’s something here for everyone!

If this first Eddie Red Undercover book sounds like something you’d enjoy, you may also want to take a look at the second book, Mystery in Mayan Mexico. A third book, Doom at Grant’s Tomb, will be out on April 5th.

To learn more about the entire Eddie Red Undercover series, check out author Marcia Wells’ website. You can also learn more about the book’s illustrator, Marcos Calo, here.

Wonderstruck

After reading the wonder that is The Invention of Hugo Cabret, I knew I had to read the latest work of art by Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck.  I finally got around to it this week (at the urging of some of my students), and I was immediately captivated by this amazing story.  Although the book is over 600 pages long, it took me less than two days to read it.  (Of course, it helps that over half of the pages were pictures.)  Wonderstruck brings together two seemingly independent stories–one told in words and the other in illustrations–that take readers on an emotional journey that will leave them…well…wonderstruck!

Ben, a boy living in Minnesota in the 1970s, and Rose, a girl living in New Jersey in the 1920s, are searching for the same thing–a place to belong. Both of them long for the parents that seem (and often really are) out of their reach. As both young people go on a quest to find their places in the world, their stories intertwine, and both of them end up in a museum at the heart of New York City. What connection does this museum have to Ben and Rose? And can it help them to find the sense of belonging that they’ve always wanted? Read Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick and join Ben and Rose as they discover the truth about their pasts and the connections that will lead them into the future.

Wonderstruck is an absolutely beautiful story that will resonate with readers from ages 10 to 100.  The symmetry with which Brian Selznick wove the two seemingly independent tales of Ben and Rose is truly remarkable, and the similarities between the characters will appeal to many, as will the connections that bridges the gap between the fifty years that separate them.  

The pencil drawings in Wonderstruck, like all of the illustrations I’ve seen by Brian Selznick, are gorgeous.  It’s amazing to me–an admitted non-artist–how someone can convey a character’s emotions simply by drawing their eyes.  No words were needed.  I knew exactly what the character was feeling, and I experienced those emotions as well.  Brian Selznick proves that his pictures truly are worth a thousand words.

If you’re looking for your next great read, I highly recommend Wonderstruck.  You won’t be disappointed.

For more information on Wonderstruck and author Brian Selznick, visit http://www.wonderstruckthebook.com/.