Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Audio : Audio Book


Fall 2015 Audio Book
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
CD Price: $19.99

It seems every other celebrity these days tries to dip a toe into the children's book scene. As skeptical as readers may be about this trend, some non-writers really can write. Fans of Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer (The Help) will be happy to know that she falls into this camp. Spencer's new series, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective, features an intrepid young sleuth who relies on her brains, curiosity, core group of friends, and-yes-martial arts skills to solve mysteries. Randi is a native New Yorker transplanted to Tennessee, and in the first novel she struggled with issues such as dealing with her mother's death, and being the new kid at school, along with uncovering clues. The Sweetest Heist in History is the second book in the series, and at the center of the action is a plot to steal a priceless (and perhaps magical) collection of Fabergé Imperial eggs from a museum back in New York. The art-centric plot, combined with the backstory of a mysterious lady from another character's past, makes for a juicy tale, one that may interest readers of books such as Chasing Vermeer or From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The audio version is read by Spencer herself, and, ironically, this is where the book disappoints just a bit. Spencer is such an expressive actress onscreen, one expects that same level of charisma in her reading; here, however, her performance is pretty straightforward and somewhat less vivid than the story she tells. Still, this is a worthwhile choice for mystery fans.

Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2015 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.

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