Caramel reviews Spy Penguins: Golden Egg by Sam Hay

The book bunnies naturally love bunnies, but the whole family also has a special place in their hearts for penguins. And many children’s book authors seem to agree that penguins make great characters. Caramel has already reviewed several books about them; see Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon, Penguins Hate Stuff by Greg Stones, And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, Penguin Pete by Marcus Pfister, and The Trouble with Penguins by Rebecca Jordan-Glum. (Even Marshmallow has reviewed one; see Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater.) Today Caramel is talking to Sprinkles about another book with penguin heroes: Spy Penguins: Golden Egg, written by Sam Hay and illustrated by Marek Jagucki.

Caramel reviews Spy Penguins: Golden Egg, written by Sam Hay and illustrated by Marek Jagucki.
Caramel reviews Spy Penguins: Golden Egg, written by Sam Hay and illustrated by Marek Jagucki.

Sprinkles: Okay Caramel, you got this chapter book a while ago, and finally you decided to talk about it for the blog. Perhaps we just needed to finish all the dragon books in the house first.

Caramel: Yup. And don’t forget pangolin books!

S: I guess those dragons and pangolins are always going to be your favorites. But it seems that penguins come quite close.

C: Yes, penguins might be possibly my third favorite creatures. But if you include robots, then maybe penguins might be fourth on my list. Still I like them a lot.

S: I know. You already reviewed several books for the blog about them. But let us focus on this one now. What is Spy Penguins: Golden Egg about?

C: It is about two penguins named Jackson and Quigley, who want to be spies. They are young though; at least Jackson is still living with his parents. Still, they want to join the FBI and solve crimes.

S: What is the FBI? Is it the Federal Bureau of Investigation?

C: No, no, no! It is the Frosty Bureau of Investigation!

S: Hmm, this kind of reminds me of the book N.E.R.D.S. that you reviewed a while back. There, too, you had a bunch of characters who were solving crimes.

C: Yes, Jackson and Quigley also have gadgets and gizmos, like the kids from N.E.R.D.S. But they are penguins and actually they are too young for the FBI. Still they try to solve crimes. Even when they are told not to. Which is kind of like Harry Potter, who never listens to the grownups in his life.

S: I know, right? It seems that a lot of book characters don’t listen to the grownups in their lives and get mixed up in all sorts of things. But sometimes they turn out to be fun and exciting. So tell me what kinds of crimes are Jackson and Quigley working to solve?

C: In this book, there is a criminal named Icejob, who has escaped from prison. And the two spy penguins try to find him.

S: And what is the golden egg in the title?

C: There is a game called the Golden Egg Games, which is kind of like the Olympics. It happens every ten years. And the winner, the caretaker and the egg, get rewarded.

S: Wait, so you are supposed to run or do some athletic stuff with an egg??

C: Pretty much. And Jackson is taking care of his sibling egg because his mom is sick. And so the two of them, Jackson and the egg, play in the Golden Egg Games, and —

S: Hey! No big spoilers! How is the Golden Egg game related to the criminal Icejob?

C: Well, Icejob steals the Golden Egg and the egg which is supposed to become Jackson’s sibling.

S: So is the Golden Egg like a trophy you get when you win the Golden Egg Games?

C: No. It is a giant golden egg, and the winners’ names are written on it.

S: Hmm. Kind of like the record of the history of the games, then?

C: Yes, I think you could say that.

Caramel is reading Spy Penguins: Golden Egg, written by Sam Hay and illustrated by Marek Jagucki.
Caramel is reading Spy Penguins: Golden Egg, written by Sam Hay and illustrated by Marek Jagucki.

S: Hmm, this all sounds quite fun and exciting. I’m guessing those two words might be some of your words for this book, am I right?

C: Yep. I’d say, fun, exciting, and funny. And there are neat pictures in the book, too.

S: I can see you liked the book Caramel. Did you know this was one of a series of books about these two penguins?

C: Yes. This is apparently book three in a series.

S: Did you know it when you began to read the book?

C: Not really, but you figure it out soon enough. It did say some things about some characters and events from the earlier books.

S: Hmm, but it seemed like you still enjoyed the book, even though you had not read the first two books.

C: Yes. I think you could definitely enjoy this without having read the first two books. But now I want to read them!

S: We’ll see if we can find copies to get in your paws some time Caramel.

C: And this third book kind of ends with a cliffhanger. What I mean is that there is some new mystery that we learn about.

S: Kind of like in The Menagerie, then.

C: Right. The main story of this book is finished, but there are hints about the next adventure, and I want to learn more!

S: I don’t know if there will be a fourth book though, Caramel. I did not see anything about it online. So maybe the author might have been thinking of writing a fourth book, but I’m not sure if she ended up doing so.

C: Oh I hope she does! I want to read more about these spy penguins!

S: I can see that! But perhaps this is a good time to wrap up this review. What do you want to tell our readers?

C: First I want to say to the author: please please please write a fourth book. And then maybe some more!

S: Okay… And to our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading Spy Penguins: Golden Egg, written by Sam Hay and illustrated by Marek Jagucki, and he is hoping that these two fun-loving penguins will have many more adventures together.
Caramel enjoyed reading Spy Penguins: Golden Egg, written by Sam Hay and illustrated by Marek Jagucki, and he is hoping that these two fun-loving penguins will have many more adventures together.

Marshmallow reviews The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories)

Marshmallow has read about fifty of the classic Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene. Below she shares her thoughts about The Mysterious Mannequin, the forty-seventh volume in the series, first published in 1970.

Marshmallow reviews The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories).
Marshmallow reviews The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories).

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like detective stories where the main character is a kid who solves crime mysteries, then this might be the book series for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Nancy Drew receives a mysterious package that contains a Turkish prayer rug that hides a message. Nancy’s friends, George, and Bess, help her figure out the message:

“Carson, find mannequin. I love her. Carry her to Constantinople.”

Nancy and her father Carson Drew decide that the sender is probably Farouk Tahmasp, a client of Mr. Drew who, after being charged for smuggling, disappeared mysteriously. But other people know about the rug that Farouk Tahmasp sent to the Drews: a man comes and attempts to steal the Turkish prayer rug. Luckily, Nancy’s dog Togo saves the day (and the rug). Nancy sees a man who looks exactly like the man who tried to rob the Drew house. He meets with a woman and shows her a note that is short but sad. She bursts into tears, and then when the man sees Nancy, he tells her to run. They flee and Nancy and her friends, George and Bess, run after them.   

Nancy is an amateur detective and immediately starts to search for the mannequin that the sender, Farouk Tahmasp, is looking for. Nancy finds a clue while dining at a Greek/Turkish restaurant. Nancy describes the thief and the woman who he talked to. She asks if he knows anyone by the descriptions that she tells him. Another man, probably the “neighborhood boss”, gets up and asks them (not very nicely) why they are asking all these questions. Nancy asks him who he is and then he goes back and sits down again. The owner of the restaurant, Mr. Akurzal, leaves. Later one of the waiters drops a note in Nancy’s lap. It says:

“There are many young people who answer your description but you might look for two men, Cemal Aga and Tunay Arik, and girls, Alime Gursel and Aisha Hatun.”

Find the people that the owner, Mr. Akuzal, told them about in the note. They cross out two of the suspects, Cemal Aga and Alime Gursel. That means that the main suspects are Tunay Arik and Aisha Hatun. They can’t find them though. Nancy and her friend, Ned, look but they can’t find the man Tunay Arik. Nancy and Ned start looking for Tunay Arik in shops. They don’t find him, but they do meet the two girls who lead them to Tunay Arik. Sue and Kathy, the two girls, take them to Tunay Arik’s location. He is not there though. They find out who is the woman, Aisha Hatun. They learn that Aisha and Farouk were in love and then Farouk got involved in the smuggling issue. (Farouk was proven innocent.) Farouk left and then Tunay started annoying her. Nancy and her friends, George, Bess, Aisha, Ned, Burt, and Evan, all leave to Turkey. The problem is that they don’t know where the mannequin is. Where is the mannequin?

Marshmallow is reading The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories).
Marshmallow is reading The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories).

Marshmallow’s Review:  This is one of my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries and I have read it over and over again, several times. The characters are interesting and the way that Nancy reveals the mannequin is intriguing.

It is also at the same time an old book and its age shows. I felt that occasionally it is not very culturally sensitive. But the book does try to give a flavor of Istanbul to the readers, and does mention some facts about Turkish history.

Nancy Drew is a little like Encyclopedia Brown (you can see my review of Encyclopedia Brown Books 1-4 here). Nancy Drew is not an encyclopedia of facts A to Z but is very intelligent. She has a very practical mind and has the ability to make connections that most of the time solve the mystery that she is working on. Her friends are not as intelligent but are helpful and supporting of her.

Marshmallow’s rating: 95%

Marshmallow rates The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories) 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories) 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Encyclopedia Brown Books 1-4 by Donald Sobol

Marshmallow loves to read detective stories with young protagonists. Below she shares some of her thoughts on the first four books of a classic series, Encyclopedia Brown, by Donald J. Sobol.

Marshmallow reviews the first four books of Donald Sobol's Encyclopedia Brown series.
Marshmallow reviews the first four books of Donald J. Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown series.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books that have very smart people in them, or if you simply like detective stories where the main character is a kid who solves crime mysteries, then this might be the book series for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): The name Encyclopedia Brown gives you the hint that he or she is very smart since an encyclopedia is a book that contains facts, A to Z. (Encyclopedia Brown’s real name is Leroy Brown. Encyclopedia is his nickname.) The truth is, yes, Encyclopedia Brown is VERY smart and has a vast amount of knowledge. Encyclopedia is also a great detective. He can solve any mystery, even if it is an eighty-five-year-old case that has been a story for a long time. 

According to Wikipedia, there are at least twenty-nine Encyclopedia Brown books, but I have read only four of them so far. Each book is less than a hundred pages and is easy to read in one day or less. In each book there are about ten stories. Sometimes the stories in one book are related to one another and have common characters. For example Sally Kimball is one of Encyclopedia Brown’s best friends and serves as his body guard. Another character who appears several times is Bugs Meany, often the criminal in the cases brought to Encyclopedia by other kids. 

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret Pitch is Marshmallow's favorite among the four.
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret Pitch is Marshmallow’s favorite among the four.

The book I like the most is book number two, Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret Pitch. In that book, one of my favorite stories is The Case of the Glass of Ginger Ale. This story is about a famous blind violinist who got tricked by Hans Braun, “concert master of the Glendon Symphony”. Encyclopedia solves this mystery quickly and gets an autograph from the violinist as well.

Marshmallow is reading her favorite Encyclopedia Brown story: The Case of the Glass of Ginger Ale.
Marshmallow is reading one of her favorite Encyclopedia Brown stories: The Case of the Glass of Ginger Ale.

Another one of my favorites is The Case of the Balloon Man. In this story, a man named Izzy is suspected of kidnapping a little child named Bobby Tyler. Encyclopedia solves this mystery quickly while eating dinner. 

The Case of the Hungry Hitchhiker is a great example of how good Encyclopedia’s mystery solving skills are. In this story, a “hitchhiker” turns out to be a part of a holdup gang. Encyclopedia figures this out by a not-melted chocolate bar that should have been melted. (Especially if you have been standing outside on a ninety-three-degree day for an hour as the hitchhiker claimed.) 

Marshmallow’s Review: This is a book series that everyone will enjoy. The author puts the clues in plain sight, but it is very easy to not notice them because they are not things that will attract a lot of attention. Encyclopedia Brown is clever and always has the right answers. The answers to the mysteries are in the backs of the books. The reader will probably need to go to the end often to find out the answers to the cases that Encyclopedia Brown easily solves.

Marshmallow’s rating: 95%

Marshmallow rates Encyclopedia Brown books 1-4 95%.
Marshmallow rates Encyclopedia Brown books 1-4 95%.