Thursday, January 16, 2014

MIDDLE GRADE REVIEW: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit by Octavia Spencer


Meet Randi Rhodes, the world's first ninja detective! Mystery abounds in this delightful new middle grade series from Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer.

Deer Creek is a small town whose only hope for survival is the success of their Founder's Day Festival. But the festival's main attraction, a time capsule that many people believe hold the town's treasure, has gone missing.

Randi Rhodes and her best friend, D.C., are Bruce Lee-inspired ninjas and local detectives determined to solve the case. Even if it means investigating in a haunted cabin and facing mean old Angus McCarthy, prime suspect.

They have three days to find the treasure; the future of their whole town is at stake! Will these kids be able to save the day?


Randi reluctantly moves to Deer Creek from New York with her father a year after her mother's death. She resents leaving her home and the neighborhood where she has anonymously solved 32 cases.  Deer Creek seems boring at first until the time capsule buried 200 years earlier that the town plans to open for anniversay celebration goes missing. Randi jumps at the chance to use her detective skills to find it. Despite the interference of her father and the new housekeeper that Randi resents, she manages to not only investigate but make a new friend in D.C., a fellow martial arts aficionado. But can they find the time capsule in time to save the town? Or will there first case end in failure with D.C. and his mom losing their home?

I thoroughly enjoyed this fun mystery. While not completely believable, it was interesting with fun characters, a mystery with plenty of twists and turns, and some great martial arts action at the end. I liked reading about a female main character who is confident in her own skills and growing independence.  The conflict between Randi and her father felt real and believable.  I appreciated that Randi and her friends had to face the consequences for some foolish decisions they make. The inclusion of actual detective tasks for the reader to try was also a fun touch and made Randi's actions more realistic than a lot of detective stories that I have read for this age group. Since mysteries are always popular this one is sure to be read by many middle grade readers.

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