Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Early Middle Grade Review: Josh and the Gumshoe News Crew

Okay, I have to say it: I love the sound of The Gumshoe News Crew Review.  And this is the review I was supposed to have had up Monday, for the Blog Tour.  Follow that link to enter the drawing for good stuff!

Josh and the Gumshoe News Crew by Melissa Perry Moraja 

Title: Josh and the Gumshoe News Crew: The Super Secret
Author:  Melissa Perry Moraja
Publisher: Melissa Productions, Inc.  2014.  94 pages
Source: Advance review copy

Summary (the official blurb): 
Up until a few days ago, nothing extraordinary had ever happened in ten year old Josh Wunderkind’s life - except eating a whole pot of pasta by himself. But that all changed after a mammoth-sized bird hit him smack on the face with a glob of neon green bird poop, triggering his superhuman Wunderkind ability and leaving him with the responsibility of caring for a baby bird he named Max. Now Josh was just like his older brother and twin sister Madison-super extraordinary! But what Josh didn't realize was that being superhuman wasn't all fun and games. And things only got more complex in Josh’s life when his two siblings and a couple neighborhood friends persuade him to lead a super crime-solving, neighborhood news team—the Gumshoe News Crew. But not before they agree on the Super Secret and complete Gumshoe Boot Camp. Find out what the Super Secret is. Will the Gumshoe News Crew complete boot camp? Or will Josh let his team down?

Intended for a slightly younger audience than my usual books, this story was a super-quick read.  Charming and witty, it moved swiftly, narrated by the slightly hapless Josh, who is happy to finally find his super power, but is pretty worried about messing things up, and with some reason.  The tone and humor are perfect for the target audience, and were enough to keep this alleged adult turning pages too.

I really had only two complaints about Josh and the Gumshoe News Crew: for one, the role of the baby bird in the story is sufficiently unreal that it needs to be very clear that there is a lot of magical stuff going on there.  He learns to fly in a single, 5-minute lesson?  The author is careful to be sure the readers know that in the ordinary way of things, touching a wild animal or baby chick is a very bad idea, however, which is good.  My second complaint is that the ending was rather sudden.  The story hints at a further mystery they will need to solve--but we are apparently to be left to figure that one out in the next book.  No fair!

This looks like a great series for readers making the transition from easy-reader books to more advanced chapter books.

Full Disclosure: I was given an advance review copy of Josh and the Gumshoe News Crew, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review Josh and the Gumshoe News Crew 'The Super Secret'! Feedback is always helpful and helps you become a better writer. There is a lot of magic going on and there is definitely something special about Max. My twin son Josh wishes he really had a Max, and is always looking outside our house to find a kestrel. And, you know what they say about endings ... always leave them wanting more! Have a wonderful weekend and thank you again!

  2. Thanks for your great review Rebecca and for taking part in the Josh and the Gumshoe News Crew Blog Tour. I always appreciate how you provide recommendations for who would enjoy the book - very helpful! You made an interesting comment about the role of the baby bird being unreal. Maybe I've been taking it for granted that I already know about the magic underlying all of the Wunderkind books because I've read other ones in the series. There's definitely elements of magic and superhuman powers underlying all of the books. I have to admit I didn't notice it myself before but in the intro to the book, it says "This book is a work of modern-fantasy fiction." I swear that wasn't there when I read it a month ago! lol Regardless, you always have great feedback for authors and I'm sure they appreciate it. Thanks so much Rebecca! :-)

    1. That's an interesting discovery! Of course, it's obvious that there is an element of magic; it was just a little hard to be sure about Max. And I'm kind of sensitive about things that might lead kids to make bad choices around wildlife!

      It is always tricky when the fantasy is set in an otherwise totally normal world, I think--for the reader as well as the writer (somehow, for me, it's harder to suspend disbelief, as old Wordsworth would have it).

    2. I have to admit that the older I get, the harder it is to suspend disbelief. I tell myself,"Pffft, that would never happen in real life!" Of course I realize that's the whole point! The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe was one of my favorite books from childhood specifically because these ordinary children, living in an ordinary world were able to be whisked away somewhere else. My brother and I used to create these elaborate worlds set in the forest behind our house. Now, the "magic" I hope for is for my husband and kids to take the initiative in cleaning our house! lol

    3. I think that's true, and it's something I try to be aware of when reviewing kid's books--is this something that bothers me because I'm old, or will it bother a kid too?

      I also share your hope for that housework-related magic.


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