Title: Room One: A Mystery or Two
Author: Andrew Clements
Major Themes: Mysteries
Synopsis: As Ted is running his paper route, he sees a girl’s face in the window of a house that was abandoned two years ago and sets out to decipher the mystery.
I’ve enjoyed Andrew Clements’ books ever since I discovered them a number of years ago. Each one shows a school child in an unusual, though totally believable, situation. As the story progresses, you think you have things figured out, but there is always an unexpected twist near the end. The twist in Room One wasn’t totally unexpected, but it was still surprising.
Ted was a paper boy in a very small village in Nebraska. The village was steadily shrinking, and the school, which only had about eight children this year, was in danger of being shut down. Ted didn’t want that to happen; he could hardly bear the thought of having to ride the bus for two hours every day. But what could he do?
Ted loved mysteries. He had long since read every mystery story in the school, and in the public library. Now, he had discovered the wonders of interlibrary loan, and kept himself supplied through that program. Today, however, he had a real mystery. As he had ridden his bicycle past the Anderson’s house, which had been empty for two years, there was a face in the upstairs window. Who was there, and why?
Ted carefully thought through what the detectives in his mystery books would have done to solve this mystery, and set out to figure out what was happening. When he finds himself involved in something much too complicated for himself, what can he do? If he confides in his teacher, will she keep her promise not to tell anyone else? What will happen to the terrified people he finds in that house?
I appreciated the themes of kindness and compassion woven through this story, as well as honesty and keeping your word—but also having discernment when to ask for help from adults. The struggles faced by communities whose population is dwindling were also shown quite well, as well as the trauma that military families must deal with. This is a simple story—but complicated at the same time.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15
Links to buy this book:
Amazon: Paperback | Kindle | Hardcover | Audible Audiobook (unabridged) | Audio CD (unabridged)
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
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