The whole town is talking about what's buried beneath the playground...
Windy Bottom, Georgia is usually a peaceful place. Coop helps his mom at her café and bookstore, hangs out with his grandpa, and bikes around with his friends Justice and Liberty. The town is full of all kinds of interesting people, but no one has ever caused a problem. Until now.
And somehow, Gramps is taking all the blame! It seems like there are a lot of secrets that were buried in their small town after all...
Will Coop and his friends get to the bottom of the mystery and clear Gramps's name before it's too late?---from the publisher
304 pages 978-1492640189 Ages 8-12
Keywords: mystery, grandpa, humor, secrets, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old
Coop and his mother live in Windy Bottom, Georgia with his grandfather, who helps them run A Whole Latte Books cafe and bookstore with his friends' Justice and Liberty's parents. Coop's father died while serving in the military, and while the loss is still felt, Coop is glad to have the presence of his grandfather, who served the town as doctor for many years. When a body is unearthed during the building of a new playground, Coop wants to investigate. Even though it could be murder, it's something different and exciting. When the body turns out to be that of his grandmother Tabby, who was thought to leave his grandfather and his father Steven in the late 1970s, things take a different turn, especially when his grandfather is considered as a suspect. With the help of his father's best friend and local constabulary, Tick, Coop is able to talk to local residents to find out a lot of information about his family's past, as well as town secrets that lead to solving this decades old, but personally important, case.
Strengths: This is a text book example of a perfect middle grade novel! It's just 200 pages, which means it is tightly edited and fast paced. It's an actual murder mystery, and the fact that it is a long gone grandmother makes it both highly personal but also not as painful as it could be. There's buy in without horrible raw emotion. I loved the descriptions of the grandmother and her fashions from the 1970s. The turns of phrase were brilliant; I could happily quote half of the brilliant but off the cuff descriptions if I had the finished book. This had a great twist at the end. I thought I knew who the murderer was, and I thought I was right, but then it took a totally different turn! The small town interactions, as well as the cafe/bookstore, make this a perfect cozy mystery (ala Braun's Cat Who mysteries) for the younger set, something I really haven't seen. Weaknesses: Coop occasionally does some stupid things, and unless I missed something (which is entirely possible), the issue with Beau's father is unresolved. What I really think: I would love to see a whole series of these, and I'm not usually one for series! Definitely purchasing, and can't wait to hand to students.
Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Librarian, Ohio USA
See more of her recommendations: msyinglingreads.blogspot.com