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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11 Book Review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day

This is my second year participating in the Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCCBD). Last year, we reviewed the book All About China. This year, we have the book Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11 reviewed below.
Their mission: The MCCBD team’s mission to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.
The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. You can find a bio for Mia and Valarie here.

Multicultural Children’s Book day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors! #ReadYourWorld

Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Host and you can use the links below or view them here.

As part of MCCBD, there is a Classroom Reading Challenge where teachers can earn a free diversity book or their classroom. Read up on the challenge to learn more.

Interested in winning some of the books highlighting this year's MCCBD? Check out the MCCBD Twitter party from 9-10 pm EST on 1/27. And, there is a diversity picture book giveaway that ends in a couple days.

And, now on to the book review...
As part of MCCBD, I received Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11 by N. Griffin and illustrated by Kate Hindley. Why Nicole doesn't want her name on the cover, I don't know. Perhaps it is a J. K. kinda thing. With that said, the book is the story of a hamster that mysteriously disappears and the trials and tribulations that protagonist Smashie and her best friend Dontel go about in solving the mystery. 

As seen on the cover and in some illustrations throughout, there is the diversity part of the story, with an African American friend. As my wife is a social worker, we like our son reading books where there is some diversity in the characters and it isn't just a single color centric story, like the Oscars. However, there really isn't anything special in the story about Dontel's race and he could be Sanjay from India or Hong from China with the story practically reading the same, just changing the name, if you wanted diversity. But, that is a good thing that there are no racial overtones as you don't want any stereotypes developed at this young an age, as the book targets grades three to six. The book has a Lexile Level of 600 which correlates to grade five.

With the diversity bit identified, how is the actual story? For the right audience, it is a good read that helps a child understand what's involved in solving a mystery. And, trying to solve it for themselves as they read along. For my son, it was his first mystery topic where he typically is more into books about wimpy kids in underpants, who cast spells, though his Harry Potter days seem to be over.

What mystery is trying to be solved in the book? Well, this is where things get interesting. First, the friends start with the mystery of a disappearing hamster. Then a brooch goes missing. And, some objects get mysteriously glued where they shouldn't be. Sure, they're all solved by the end and nothing that I can tell is left hanging.

Overall, the story isn't too complicated and the book makes a good jumping off point for other stories led by Smashie and Dontel, or just other kid's mysteries in general, for our son to read.

Not that we needed it for the purpose of reading the book, but I like that the publisher, Candlewick Press, has a teacher's guide (PDF) available for the title. It has some good discussion questions and vocabulary to help make sure students get the most from the book.

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