Monday 27 June 2022

PD McPem’s Agency for Mysterious Mysteries: The Recorder Racket – Case One

PD McPem’s Agency for Mysterious Mysteries: The Recorder Racket – Case One by Anna Battese and Ruth-Mary Smith (Yellow Brick Books) Paperback RRP $11.95 ISBN 9 780645 218084

 Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

This is a delightful story that celebrates intergenerational relationships. PD is an engaging protagonist with a witty sense of humour who makes lively observations. 

PD (Penelope Delores) Mc Pem finds her mum’s old recorder and is thrilled to show off her new musical skills to her grandparents. However, while PD and Grandad are cleaning up the garage, the recorder disappears. Granny seems to be acting suspiciously but has no idea where it could possibly be. Now there’s a mystery that needs to be solved. PD along with Grandad and her little dog Scooter search for clues and make some exciting discoveries along the way.

Anna Battese has written a highly engaging text that’s easy to read. The opening sentence cleverly uses onomatopoeia, Tweet! Fweet! Tweeeeet! Tweet! Fweet. Catchy dialogue shows character traits, gives reader information, and moves the plot along. The sentences are placed inside short chapters that make this a great early reader chapter book. The humour delights and there’s enough vocabulary to stretch a younger reader. The strong character development, engaging storyline and text that’s cleverly embedded with information for the reader to learn things make this little book a winner. ‘What’s this grandpa? PD held up a strange object. It had a wooden handle and a circle of glass at the top. ‘A magnifying glass.’ Grandpa replied as he climbed down from the step ladder.

Ruth-Mary Smith’s expressive cartoon-like illustrations play an important role in supporting the text and help a younger reader. I particularly love the image of PD with the magnifying glass and wearing Grandad’s old coat. It’s a perfect match to the text. The black and white images appear at the right times adding to the plot and heightening the tension. I can even picture a child trying to draw the characters themselves. A good illustrator knows when to pull back and Smith has hit the mark. The choice of a yellow cover with PD in detective mode is eye catching and will attract shelf attention.

PD McPem’s Agency for Mysterious Mysteries: The Recorder Racket – Case One is a junior novel for children 6+ years that is a first in a series. Its topic choice and humour are perfect for younger readers as they do love detective/mystery stories. The story is long enough for a child to read themselves or short enough for a parent to read to a child. Teacher’s will love the story’s strong themes of intergenerational relationships and family. Anna Battese and Ruth-Mary Smith are a great creative combination. I look forward to reading the next book in this series, The Puzzling Pet Parade – Case Two.

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