Who doesn’t love a mystery? Whether your find them intriguing puzzles or can’t-wait-to-know-the-solution page-turners, a good mystery is engrossing and a little tense. Throw in a little humor, a detailed setting, and well-drawn characters and you have a book you can confidently hand to young readers who are already hooked on the genre and those who have yet to become fans.
We are pleased to feature Turn Left at the Cow as our May book selection, written by the expert plotter Lisa Bullard, replete with her characteristic humor.
In each Bookstorm™, we offer a bibliography of books that have close ties to the the featured book. You’ll find books, articles, and videos for a variety of tastes and interests. This month, we’re focusing on books for middle grade readers with mysteries, humor, and bank heists.
Don’t miss the exceptional resources on the author’s website. Try your hand at butter carving with “Butter Head Beauties,” engaging science, art, and language arts skills. Re-create the book’s chicken poop bingo with “Chances Are,” calling on math and language arts. Lisa Bullard’s Pinterest page has more great ideas that you’ll find useful as you incorporate this book into your planning.
Middle Grade Mysteries. There are amazing books written for this age group. We’ve included a list that would help you select read-alikes or companion books, drawing on titles first printed in 1929 (yes, really) to 2015.
Butter Heads and Other State Fair Strangeness. A butter head is one of the attention-worthy objects in the book. Begin an online research assignment with a few articles about butter heads around the country.
Fish Out of Water. Travis lives in southern California. When he runs away to his grandmother’s cabin in northern Minnesota, it walks and talks like a different world, one that Travis has to learn to navigate if he’s going to solve the mystery.
Missing Parent. Even though Travis left his mother behind with her new husband, Travis is most interested in finding out about his dad, who died before he was born. Books for this age group often revolve around a parent or parents who are not present. We’ve recommended a few of them.
Robberies and Heists. Travis has trouble believing his father could have robbed a bank but the townspeople seem to think so. We’ve included books that delineate bank or train robberies, some of them true.
Small Town Festivals. One of the most exciting scenes in Turn Left at the Cow takes place in Green Lake, Minnesota’s annual summer festival where chicken poop bingo is a tradition. We’ve found articles about other small town festivals that would make good writing prompts, research projects, or PowerPoint projects.
Mysteries offer a special pleasure to many readers, both children and adults. They provide an excellent opportunity to talk about plot and how that plot is reinforced by intriguing characters (and good writing!).
Let us know how you are making use of this Bookstorm™. Share your ideas and any other books you’d add to this Bookstorm™.