[Book Review] The Canary Caper (A to Z Mysteries, #3) by Ron Roy

C is for Canary...

Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose get an urgent call from Mrs. Davis. Her canary is missing! The little bird has vanished without a trace, and he's not the only one. Two other pets are missing. The kids suspect a pet-napper, and now that Ruth Rose's cat, Tiger, has turned up missing too, it's become personal!

The Canary Caper is the third book of my favorite series from early childhood, A to Z Mysteries. It's another adorable mystery starring Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose, and this time they're on the trail of a petnapper.

The plot, a simple mystery has two flaws to speak of, the second of which is just personal preference on my part.

First, Roy seems to have a bit of difficulty with establishing a reason for the children to become involved in these mysteries. The Absent Author was fine in this respect, but The Bald Bandit and The Canary Caper both begin with the three elementary school children being asked--by adults, no less--to help unravel mysteries that have absolutely nothing to do with them. It's a bit contrived, definitely, though I believe it gets better in later books; at the very least, with each new book it becomes more reasonable for the children to have developed a reputation as (unusually competent) child detectives, at least in the small town of Green Lawn.

Second, the children's parents are a very minor presence in these first three books. (I actually don't recall whether or not this changes later in the series, though Josh's parents play a large role in one of the books of the spin-off series, Calendar Mysteries.) Though it's explained in both The Absent Author and The Bald Bandit that the children are actively trying to hide their detective work from their parents, I would definitely like to see the parents take a more active interest in their children's lives.

On the other hand, the A to Z Mysteries series has one refreshing element that most children's mysteries lack: though the books focus on the children's investigations, they also emphasize that the police are working offscreen toward the same end. In fact, two out of three endings so far have involved the children stepping aside to let the professionals handle the criminals.

All that said, I very highly recommend the A to Z Mysteries series to young readers. They're wonderful books, and hopefully they can help instill in your child the same love of reading that they gave me.

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