Yearling, 1990. 978-0394849928
Synopsis: When Becky is accused of stealing a rare copy of The Wizard of Oz from the library, she and her twin brother Toby set out to catch the real thief and clear her name. What they discover is that the stolen book is one of four that hold clues to a mysterious treasure, one that could help its finder find happiness.
Why I picked it up: I am a huge fan of Avi’s work, but I have yet to make my way through his entire body of work.
Why I finished it: This is a clever mystery crafted around a collection of books that at first glance don’t seem to have much in common. Becky and Toby have just started their summer vacation and while they’d prefer to be doing something else, the two find themselves reading through books and hunting around town to learn more about what hidden treasure could be just around the corner. Both children are quite clever, but there isn’t a whole lot of character development beyond these revelations. Avi appears to be more focused on building the mystery, and while it’s enough to keep the reader turning the pages, I was a little disappointed that I knew more about the town shut ins than I did about our main characters. The small town in which the book is set comes across as quaint, and Avi works the town’s own little oddities into the mystery and it is a clue hidden in another book that aids in leading Becky and Toby to the treasure. It’s a quick, fun read that engages the reader in discovering the power of books and how there is no such thing as useless information.
Other related materials: The Secret School by Avi; Something Upstairs by Avi; Midnight Magic by Avi; Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library by Eth Clifford; From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg; Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein; Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett; The Calder Game by Blue Balliett; Room One: A Mystery or Two by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Mark Elliott; Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook by Mary Amato; The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks; Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach; The Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson