Book Review – The Case of the Secret Santa

TITLE: Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley Kids Super Snooper #1 – The Case of the Secret Santa
AUTHOR: Molly Mia Stewart
ILLUSTRATOR: Ying-Hwa Hu
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHED: 1990

 

Okay.  I read the Sweet Valley High series a bit, but Sweet Valley Twins always annoyed me because of the book where one of the sisters gets her period and the other one is mad that she doesn’t.  That book pretty much sucked and it was pretty much the point in which I quit reading any of the series whatsoever.   Apparently they went ahead and made a younger kids version as well, although I’m a little surprised to discover that Francine Pascal had nothing to do with it.  At least Ann M Martin pretended to write the Baby-Sitter’s Little Sister books even if she really didn’t.  But I am getting off topic.

I found this book in a free bin of books and I have to admit that I was a little curious, and when I wanted something mindless to read for a few minutes, I decided to give 30 minutes of my life to it.

So.

In this story, Jessica, Elizabeth, and a bunch of their friends have decided to start a detective club for something to do over Christmas break.  After deciding on a secret handshake and electing who else but the twins as co-presidents, they start looking for a mystery to solve.  Their mystery comes in the form of the temporary janitor, Chris.  Jessica thinks he’s Santa.  Elizabeth thinks she’s full of it because Santa isn’t even real, and even if he was, why would he be a janitor.

Okay, then.

So, issues with the book.  Even moreso in this book than in the main series, since it revolves so much around Jessica and Elizabeth, their friends are almost pointless to the story; Jessica finds every clue herself, for instance.  The is Santa real or not thing was pretty much annoying, as the author was clearly trying to not at all touch on that, even though it was a book about whether or not somebody was Santa.

And I can’t even tell you how many things happened in this book that would never have happened in a real setting – like the kids leaving the playground during recess to go all over the building repeatedly.  Seriously.

Oh, and after a couple pages of forming this club for over-Christmas purposes, they solved the mystery before school let out for the year.  And the ending was a bit cliche, but I won’t give it away.

 

So, the book is RL2, which means 7-year-olds, and I know that explains a lot (like why you can write a book about whether or not Santa is real and never bother answering the question either way), but it doesn’t forgive some of the things that I’m complaining about.  The book isn’t that long, and the author couldn’t manage to explain time of day or point in school year with any level of clarity, for instance.

I suppose the book is appropriate for the age group, but I really think that the book could have still managed to be well-written.  So, 3/5 pages, I guess.  But there’s better stuff out there for this age group.

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