Title: Nancy Clancy Super Sleuth
Author: Jane O’Connor
Illustrator: Robin Preiss Glasser
ISBN: 9780062082930
Pages: 124 pages
Publisher/Date: HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, c2012.

Nancy Clancy was all set to solve a mystery. She had a fancy magnifying glass complete with rhinestones. She had a spiral notepad and a flashlight. She had sunglasses, a hat with a floppy brim, and a pink trench coat. (A trench coat was the kind of raincoat that detectives wore.) She had superb detective skills. She was naturally nosy. So she was good at snooping. (Investigating was the professional word for snooping.)

Really the only thing Nancy was missing was a mystery. (1-2)

Nancy Clancy, from the popular Fancy Nancy series doesn’t have to wait long for not one but two mysteries to require her investigation. With the help of her friend Bree, they discover that one of the twins is keeping a secret from Nancy and they’re intent to find out the secret! In the meantime, their teacher’s memento, a marble given to him by his grandfather, has gone missing on Family Day. Is there a thief in their classroom? With suspects at every turn, Nancy and Bree are on the case.

I was pleasantly surprised by the substance that was in this book. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Fancy Nancy series, but was hesitant to find out how the glitter girl was going to transition from picture books to chapter books. Nancy is still using her wonderful vocabulary, from “investigating” and “acquaintance” to “memento” and “integrity”. She is also using valuable sleuthing techniques, including dusting for fingerprints, interrogating suspects, examining pictures of the crime scene for clues and trying to determine motive. There are some false leads and accusations that they eventually recognize, but in the end they find their culprit, who is someone they didn’t suspect.

Another excellent aspect of the series that continues with the chapter books is Robin Preiss Glasser’s illustrations. While they are unfortunately in black and white, the faces are just as expressive as in the original picture books. Nancy’s tongue sticks out in concentration, her body language transitions from imperious to contemplative to dejected, and even her eyes express the range of feelings that she encounters throughout her investigation. The cover design is thankfully in color, and you really get a great idea of what Nancy grew up to become.

The grade isn’t specified, which I think is a great choice since Jane O’Connor said in a Publisher’s Weekly interview that third and fourth grade girls were asking for the chapter books. She’s obviously older, but Amazon.com reviewers (who have had nothing but good things to say about the series) have mentioned reading them aloud a chapter at a time to their four and five-year olds to rave reviews. The format isn’t the only thing that indicates the older audience, as Nancy’s clubhouse has become “Sleuth Headquarters”, she and Bree are communicating in a secret code which might be a little hard for the younger readers to understand, and themes addressed by the end of the book include guilt, justice, and false accusations. But as I said, they are all well handled and appropriate for not only the older audience it was intended for but also the younger, more precocious fans.

The next book in the series arrives in January.

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