Sunday, February 07, 2010

It's a Mystery! Cam Jansen and the Spotten Cat Mystery by David S. Adler

Beginning readers who are looking for a less fashion-focused heroine than Fancy Nancy can well turn to a unique girl character with unique mental abilities, in David Adler's prolific Young Cam Jansen series.

Like all the Sherlockian sleuths of literature, Cam solves her mysteries by observation and rational thinking. But Cam, short for "Camera," has earned her nickname through her use of her photographic memory whenever there is a need for detection. "Click" she says, and her remarkable recall brings up just the very scene in her memory needed to spot the vital clues.

In an engaging seasonal story,Young Cam Jansen and the Spotted Cat Mystery #12 (Puffin Easy to Read, Level 2), Cam's class straggles in from a damp wintry scene one morning to find a mysterious white and black spotted cat sleeping cozily on a crumpled red sweater in the corner. Cam's memory is correct; it is Danny's sweater, but he denies any knowledge of the cat and, as usual, makes his messy way to his desk, trailing his homework papers behind him.

The sympathetic Gwen tries to share the tuna in her lunch with the cat, who unexpectedly turns up her nose, preferring purring in the teacher's arms. How could this cat have gotten into the school, and where does she belong, the class wonders.

"Click!" Cam reviews the scene as it was when she entered the sparkling clean classroom, noting that there were no wet feline footprints, even on Danny's dropped papers, and reasons that the obviously well-fed (and dry) cat must live somewhere inside the school. The kids are off on a mission to locate the cat's keeper inside and the mystery is soon solved.

A spin-off from Adler's Cam Jansen chapter book mysteries for more accomplished readers, his red-haired heroine now has an extensive library of her own for ready-to-read primary graders. Home and schoolroom settings give these stories vocabulary easy accessible to young readers, and the presence of sidekick Eric, who plays Watson to Cam's Sherlock, makes the stories appealing to boys as well as girls.

For another intriguing classroom mystery, see Adler's Young Cam Jansen and the Missing Cookie, and for another winter's tale see Young Cam Jansen and the Ice Skate Mystery.

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  • I heard Adler speak years ago at the summer SCBWI conference. I enjoy reading his Cam Jansen books so look forward to these, too.

    By Anonymous Mary Ann Dames, at 8:16 PM  

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