3 out of 4 stars
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I rate Serendipity Mystery: Diary of a Snoopy Cat by RF Kristi as 3 out of 4 stars because it is written with a strong voice, but it becomes a little too predictive. The writing and editing are very well done, and I found only one error. I would recommend this book and this series, to parents of young children and primary grade teachers.
This adorable story follows the kittens: Inca, Cora, Fromage, and Charlotte as they travel on vacation with a human called Mom. Other animals soon join the story, from sea turtles, elephants and leopards, to the trusty dog, Terrance and his human. The reader is given to understand that the main characters are French but usually reside in London, and are visiting Sri Lanka on vacation. There is great description of what Inca sees, but with everyday details like stomach-growling-hunger that all children can relate to. We soon learn of a beautiful sword that is stolen from the museum and the detectives are intrigued! However, the cats are more involved in vacationing trips and time on the lovely sand than detecting. This reader enjoyed the details of the older cars, tricky monkeys, and working elephants of the vacation exploits. The cats, but Inca especially, do use their friendships with the local animals to try to solve the crime and play a key piece in recovering the stolen treasure.
The book begins with ”I am Inca, a super duper cat detective.” Immediately, I could imagine reading this in a primary classroom or at bedtime to my children and hearing them giggle as we began the story with “super duper”. Likewise, the poster showing the main characters with distinctive features and characteristics is awesome. Some of us struggle to learn names and this is a great tool. I also like the bulleted questions that appear sometimes to ask the reader to predict what may happen next. Lastly, the “reviewing the case” midway with the characters also reviews it for the reader, as do the diary entries. There are so many excellent text features woven into the story seemingly effortlessly.
In contrast, while I found myself really enjoying the adventures the animals had on safaris, some of the action seemed very repetitive and redundant. Some children will want that repetition, but many children lose interest and it can be difficult to pull them back in. Luckily there continue to be funny scenes like monkeys pulling cat tails, that help launch the story forward. A few might say that some of the vocabulary is too high for the audience. I disagree, use of phrases like “...told her about exploits of Inca & Company.” (location 219 of 809) are perfectly fine for a book to be read aloud. While many young readers will not know the word “exploits” the context gives a solid clue and the person reading can pause to give additional explanation.
As I said above, the book is very well edited, the only editing issue I had was during the safari when the kittens speak of a possible adventure that night then suddenly, without transition, the kittens are settling for the night and falling asleep. I found this discrepancy a bit jolting. I did not notice any typos, or other editing errors. There are no examples of foul language, inappropriate scenes, or references to religion, making this an enjoyable read for a wide variety of audiences.
Serendipity Mystery: Diary of a Snoopy Cat
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