Thursday, December 4, 2014

Review: The Missing Chancleta and Other Top-Secret Cases

Title: The Missing Chancleta and Other Top-Secret Cases/La chancleta perdida y otros casos secretos
Author: Alidis Vicente
Publisher: Piñata Books
Pages: 64
Availability: On shelves now
Review Copy: Final copy via publisher

Summary: Flaca’s chancleta, or flip flop, has gone missing! She prepares to investigate the theft: “Pencil and notepad: in hand. Straw hat for disguise: on. Magnifying glass: Check.” She interviews each of her family members, all of whom are suspects. Oddly, their stories check out, so Flaca will have to dig deeper to find the culprit.

Normally, Detective Flaca a pale, scrawny second grader doesn’t allow civilians to read her confidential case files. But young readers willing to sign the confidentiality agreement that appears before the three top-secret cases included in this bilingual collection are in luck!

In “The Case of the Missing China,” Flaca discovers small pieces of china or oranges for those who grew up in Puerto Rico in a fruit cup included in her lunch. She’s allergic to oranges, so she immediately suspects someone is trying to harm her. But who could it be? And in “The Case of the Lost Salsa,” Flaca is dismayed to learn she will have to dance salsa at her older sister’s quinceanera. Attending the birthday party is bad enough, but performing in front of everyone is unimaginable! When Flaca starts dance lessons, she realizes her “salsa” is missing. She uses her finely tuned detective skills to locate her lost dancing abilities, ultimately discovering that one’s inner “salsa” can’t be found with pencil and paper.

Narrated by Detective Flaca in hard-boiled detective style, this bilingual collection of inter-related short stories for intermediate readers will appeal to seasoned and reluctant readers alike. And Flaca will surely inspire a host of amateur private investigators!

My Review: Detective Flaca tells about her investigative exploits in chatty case files and is kindly allowing readers to view them. Of course, with her detective skills, she is able to find crimes where nobody else might notice. The stories are quick and fun so will be great for students just entering the chapter book world.

Detective Flaca's voice is amusing. She takes herself and her detective work very seriously. When she is given a fruit cup that includes oranges that she is allergic to, she calls it an assassination attempt. This is no joke so Flaca is following every lead, taking notes, and using all the tools of the trade even if she has to improvise. For instance, she uses her grandfather's glasses in place of a magnifying glass. I had to admire both her creativity and her curiosity. She's an excellent example of someone who wonders all of the time.

A special feature is that this is a bilingual flip book. If readers start on one side, the text is in Spanish. If they flip it over, the text is in English with a few key words in Spanish. There are plenty of context clues, so even English only readers will be able to understand the Spanish vocabulary.

I would recommend this book for students who enjoy mysteries or like reading about characters that question their surroundings and live in a state of wonder. It's a great early chapter book for any collection.

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