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This was a great departure from what I’ve been reading lately. Malcolm at Midnight, by W.H. Beck, is a mystery novel. I just love mysteries, no matter what age group they are written for.

2014-09-18 10.20.58Malcolm is bought by Mr. Binney from a pet store and brought to McKenna school. Once at school he makes friends with a few of the students and is recruited to join Midnight Academy, which is a group of classroom pets who work together to protect the school and the lanky’s (adults) and nutters (students). However, there is a small problem that starts immediately. Malcolm is a rat. A small rat. But everyone, including many of the animals in the academy, mistake him for a mouse. This causes a small identity crisis for Malcolm. It is clear that rats are not held in high esteem, but he doesn’t particularly like being thought of as a mouse either.

In addition to this, there is something afoot. There are rumors of a ghost in the bell tower, you can hear him crying out at night. The leader of the Academy turns up missing and Malcolm is blamed. Also, there is an evil cat named snip who seems to be planning something dreadful for the lanky’s and nutters.

This is an easy read, but he story is complex including several different story lines and a couple of mysteries that get solved along the way. It kept me engaged, and although I anticipated most of the outcomes, I know that as an elementary schooler this would have been the height of intrigue. As a fourth grader I would have absolutely loved this book!

This book targets 9-12 year olds. Brian Lies did some really great illustrations for the book. I highly recommend it for adults who are interested in a fun and light-hearted mystery. It would also be a wonderful pick for your elementary schooler, and would make a great read aloud at home or at school.

There is a good lesson about identity and being the person, or rat, you want to be and not who everyone thinks you are. There is also a good lesson about being a good and loyal friend. In addition Beck writes in some great vocabulary words including them as words from Mr. Binney’s classroom vocabulary lessons, but using them in the story and providing the definitions in the footnotes. Yes foot notes!


2014-09-18 10.20.05Just a note: I did read Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson. Everyone, knows I love Craig Johnson, and I’ve done a couple of posts about his books so far. I thought I should probably give him a break for the time being, but since I did read another one I felt I should mention it at least.

Turns out Longmire’s daughter, who lives in Philadelphia and works as a lawyer, is attacked the day he and Henry arrive in town for a visit. She ends up in a coma in the hospital, and of course, Longmire begins investigating. It was a good read of course. I did miss being in Wyoming, but I will just read the next book and there I will be once again…