Friday, July 28, 2017

Greetings from Somewhere, Book 8 - The Mystery at the Coral Reef

Is it sad to admit that I actually enjoy reading this early reader series more than I have some other books I've picked up recently (can anyone say SpacePops?)?  Greetings from Somewhere is a series meant for 1st thru 3rd graders, and while the vocabulary is fairly simple (although each book does carry some of its own vocabulary lessons, particularly of foreign languages), the stories are actually pretty fun, the characters are engaging, and the mysteries are well-plotted.  Author Harper Paris manages to place Ethan and Ella in just the right place and right time to stumble across a mystery in each country they visit, but never makes it so fantastic that it is beyond believability.

The Mystery at the Coral Reef takes the Briar clan to Australia, as Mrs. Briar's globe-trotting adventures as the travel writer for their hometown newspaper continue. On this trip, however, they will be staying with their mother's sister and her husband and son (the twins' cousin, Harry). And while the trip starts off rather inconspicuously (as all the trips do), the mysteries quickly start to appear - first, in an e-mail from their grandfather who encourages them to find the Redthroat Emperor; then, a rather expensive looking watch they find on their aunt and uncle's private beach; and finally, the questionable dealer at the market who is selling items made from coral that is supposed to be protected.

Paris keeps the pace moving as the twins are taken snorkeling at night by their cousin, only to come across a suspicious boat anchored just off short from their relatives' house.  They only catch a glimpse of the name of the boat, but when they put their heads together, it isn't long before the twins and their cousin are able to deduce what is going on and who is doing what.

While the mystery is not complicated, and for adult readers, it is relatively simple to solve, the story is engaging from the perspective of its intended readers.  Plus, the many illustrations by the very talented Marcos Calo add to the enjoyment of the story (as we see it brought to life page after page).

Sometimes you need a quick and easy read to help you escape and relax, and quite honestly, the Greetings from Somewhere series satisfies that need in each and every respect.  It's fun, it's engaging, and it's well-written.  A great series for early readers and a guilty pleasure for us older readers.

RATING:  9 cricket matches on the telly out of 10 for good, clean, easy-to-read fun!

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