by Octavia Spencer
Read by the author.
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Content: There wasn’t anything objectionable. I don’t know how it’d be reading it, but my 8-year-old followed the story pretty well while listening to it. We did have to stop the audio a few times to explain some things, however. It’s in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.
I threw this in the audiobook pile mostly because I’ve seen it at the store and wondered if it was any good. (I know: celebrity authors. Ugh. But, sometimes they surprise me. Not often, though.)
Randi Rhodes is a die-hard city girl. She’s grown up in Brooklyn and loved every minute of it. Her family summers in Deer Creek, Tennessee, which is just about the right length of time for a city girl to spend in a boring, dull, small town. But the year after her mother dies (I called that pretty early on; I do get so tired of dead parents), her father, a mystery writer, packs the two of them up to live full-time in Deer Creek. Randi is not happy about this.
But, once there, she falls head-first into a mystery: the 200-year-old time capsule for the town’s Founder’s Day has been stolen. And they have 72 hours to get it back. Much against her over-protective father’s wishes, Randi (and her two new friends, D. C. and Pudge) decide that they are the only ones to solve the mystery.
It’s a pretty run-of-the-mill middle grade mystery book. Nothing too fantastic or brilliant; in fact, as an adult, I’ve seen all the tropes before. The banker is a Bad Guy, as is the power-grabbing Mayor. There’s a grumpy old man with a heart of gold, and a woman sheriff who’s a bit bumbling. (Though — spoiler — this isn’t a true middle grade novel, because by the end, you discover that the sheriff isn’t bumbling at all, but has instead figured out the mystery WAY before the kids ever did.) The best parts of the book are when Randi and her friends are out being detectives; the worst are the angsty tensions between her and her overprotective dad. I got extremely tired of the rants Randi went on about not being “understood.” (But that’s a parent speaking. I did appreciate that Randi was a non-girly girl; she was often ranting about how she wasn’t a princess and didn’t need protection. She’s a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, after all.)
In the end, it wasn’t anything special, though A and K enjoyed listening to it. But, it wasn’t absolutely horrible, either, and Spencer did an admirable job of narrating her book (which I would expect, with her being an actress and all).