Friday, February 23, 2007

Bridging the Gap V: Stepping into Chapter Books

Here is another early chapter series which features a detective with special powers.

For the novice chapter book reader who prefers a brainy, redheaded sleuth in her middle twenties, the obvious choice is the Cam Jansen series by David Adler, whose girl detective Cam Jansen has been entertaining mystery readers for more than a quarter century. Jennifer Jansen, nicknamed Cam for her photographic memory (Cam is short for Camera), solves mysteries by her total recall of every scene she has ever, er, seen. Accompanied by her loyal buddy Eric and comic relief class clown Danny, Cam seems to have a talent for showing up just before a crime is committed and an even greater talent for coming up with the crook just in time.

Cheerfully illustrated by Susanna Natti, these beginning chapter mysteries range from Accelerated Reader levels 3.2 to 3.9 and have around 60 pages. The "crooks" are non-threatening purse snatchers and the like, and Cam and Eric are never far from a parent, their school, or their homes when they do their detecting.

For slightly younger readers, Adler has also begun the Young Cam Jansen series, tayloring these shorter mysteries for readers between AR levels 2.3 and 2.8, and featuring a younger Cam Jansen as the gumshoe with the retentive memory.

The Cam Jansen mysteries have certainly met the test of time in their 26 years of publication and may just be the step-up chapter books that meet the challenge for the right reader.

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