Thursday, August 28, 2008

Eye of the Crow

by Shane Peacock (Canadian author alert!)
Tundra Books, 2007

The first in a new series called the Boy Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes is a 13 year old boy. He's not too interested in school, though it's not due to a lack of intelligence. There are just too many people problems there. He'd rather be out in London, reading the Illustrated Police News, and knowing what's going on in the world.

Sherlock's parents married for love, and life has not been easy, but they are intelligent individuals who have instilled a love of learning and observing in their offspring. When a woman is murdered and a suspect jailed, Sherlock is drawn into the case. The picture of the woman in the newspaper looks remarkably like a young version of his mother, and when Sherlock goes to the Bow Street Jail to see the suspect admitted, the accused makes eye contact with him and insists that he did not commit the crime. The police witness the communication and assume that Sherlock must somehow be an accessory, and the boy must prove his own and the other's innocence.

Lots of action, great historical and setting detail; cliffhangers at the conclusion of every chapter. Makes for a wonderful read-aloud. Highly recommended for boys and mystery lovers of all ages.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Catering to Nobody

by Dianne Mott Davidson
Bantam, 2002

Goldy Bear, owner/operator of Goldilocks Catering (where everything is "just right"!), is in a pickle. The local constabulary has closed down her business until they feel satisfied that she had nothing to do with the poisoning of a funeral attendee (her former father-in-law, no less) at an event she catered. A single mom, whose wealthy ex is less than reliable at making child support payments, Goldy depends on her business to pay the bills.

Fortunately for Goldy, the lead investigator on the case, Tom Schultz, takes a fancy to her despite her strong-willed ways, and invites her to participate in finding clues. Her livelihood on the line, Goldy takes the job seriously. What, if anything, connects the death of her child's former teacher, the poisoning of her father-in-law, her new tenant/assistant's changed behaviour, and her son's fascination with Dungeons and Dragons? The results may surprise you.

I liked this better than Crime Brulee, but not as well as the Hannah Swensen or Agatha Raisin mysteries. I do, however, look forward to reading the next in the series while I wait for new HS and AR books to appear.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quiet Please

Dispatches from a Public Librarian
by Scott Douglas
Da Capo Press, 2008

Scott Douglas is a librarian somewhere in California's Anaheim Public Library system. He is young, not too hip, and not completely sure of his career choice.

Many years ago when I and a friend were lowly pages in the Toronto Public Library system, we talked about all the stories we could write about life in the library. Today as a librarian and budding author, I am always interested in reading about the library experiences of others. I picked this book up expecting to read funny stories; what I got was much more.

Scott admits that many of his stories are exaggerated to increase the humour factor; he has also changed the names of his "characters" and created amalgams of others. Still, I recognize many of the people from libraries I have worked in, and I'm sure other librarian-types will too. I am just concerned about what our patrons will think of us if they read this book! They may never look at us in in quite the same way again. We seem so unassuming.

I didn't expect insights along with the funny stories, but Scott's insights are what really make the book. As he relates his tales, he thinks about what they mean for himself, his coworkers, the patrons, and the future of libraries. In spite of his uncertainty, he comes to the conclusion that libraries have a function and place in our society, and he will be a part of keeping libraries relevant and attuned to the communities they serve.