Any librarian or primary school teacher will tell you children love books with picture puzzles – thus the popularity of series such as Where’s Waldo and I Spy. Many children simply love looking for hidden objects in pictures. It’s just plain fun. Julian Press has notched this fun up a reading level and combined mystery with hidden picture clues. Originally published in Germany, the 3rd and 4th volumes in the series feature black and white illustrations every other page facing a full page explanation of a mystery and the next important clue. Each book features the same three children working with an uncle who is an inspector, and the owner of their candy shop hang-out. Each page of text ends with a question leading the reader to search for a clue in the accompanying picture. Most the clues are fairly obvious and are explained at the beginning of the following page when the next clue is introduced. The mysteries are mostly stolen goods, but also include kidnapping and other crimes. The storylines involve a lot of dialog and are less than memorable. Likewise, the characters are relatively flat and predictable. Nonetheless, for children who love picture puzzles, Get a Clue is a solid step forward into the next stage of reading. Recommended for grades 2-4.
Author: Julian Press
Publisher: Grosset and Dunlap, New York, 2008
Reviewer: Kristine Wildner, Holy Apostles School, New Berlin, WI