Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The 7th in Samurai Detective Series: The Red-Headed Demon by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler

  • The Red-Headed Demon by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
  • 7th in Series: Samurai Detective 
  • ISBN-10: 149477089X - Paperback $7.99
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (April 3, 2014), 264 pages.

The blurb:
Adopted samurai Seikei goes to the shogun's palace to view a demonstration of European medicine. Instead, he sees a murder as one of the foreigners dies of poisoning. Another of the foreigners wants to take away the young nephew of the dead man, but the boy is reluctant. He does not speak Japanese, so to keep him out of harm's way, Seikei's foster father tells Seikei to take him to the foreigners' base at Nagasaki. What seems like a simple task soon turns into a dangerous one, for many people seem to want the boy for their own peculiar purposes. Seikei has to use all his ingenuity and daring to carry out his mission and find the murderer as well.

  • Review:
Like other reviewers of The Red-Headed Demon, I'm a longtime reader of Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler's Samurai Detective series which is set during the time of Ancient/Samurai Japan.  

Seikei was born the son of a prosperous tea merchant but he'd always dreamed of being a samurai.  As the classes in Japan are set by birth, Seikei wasn't likely to become part of Japan's warrior class.   But Seikei's curiosity and intelligence draw the attention of Judge Ooka, a well respected samurai also known as the "Sherlock Holmes of Japan".  When Seikei assists Judge Ooka in an investigation, he asks and undertakes to adopt the young Seikei.  

While not everyone is excited to have a former merchant become samurai, Seikei works hard to show his worth and loyalty.  The Red-Headed Demon is the seventh book in the series and marks Seikei's first encounter with a young foreign visitor.  Over a century ago, the Shogun's ancestor had banned foreigners from entering Japan.  Now, foreigners only allowed in small carefully monitored and guarded areas.  So, when the Shogun invites a Dutch trader/physician and his young nephew named Hans to the palace, Seikei is excited to meet these unusual characters.  Also invited to the meeting is a Kirishitan priest, a Jesuit and rival of the Dutch traders.  When the Dutch trader/physician is poisoned, Judge Ito and Seikei try to ensure the young red headed visitor's safety - but without disobeying the Shogun's orders - which requires Seikei to sneak out of the palace and to the port where young Hans's compatriots are docked.  They must avoid the rival traders, unexpected dangers, and overcome their own prejudices.    

The Red-Headed Demon is both incredibly funny and an engaging adventure.  There aren't that many middle grade books that deliver the same interesting and complex characters in this unique setting.

About the Authors:
Dorothy Law Hoobler was born in Philadelphia in 1941 and grew up in Crestwood, NY where she attended public schools.  She graduated from Wells College in Aurora, NY with a degree in history and a masters in history from NYU.  She and her husband Thomas were married in 1971 while both were working at textbook publishers.  Four years later, they published their first book, a biography of Margaret Mead for young readers.  As of 2006, Dorothy and Tom have published under their own names 90 books, more published in the subsequent years.

Thomas William Hoobler was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he attended Catholic schools. He began working in his father's print shop while still a boy and earned his first wages as a proofreader at the age of ten.  He obtained a degree in English in 1964 from the University of Notre Dame. Tom participated in the Writer's Workshop of the University of Iowa and returned to Cincinnati to reach school.  He graduated with a masters in education from Xavier University in 1970 and moved to NYC in 1971.  He met his future wife Dorothy the first day that he was in NYC.  He worked on trade magazines and for a textbook publisher.  Besides the books that Tom has published with his wife, Dorothy, Tom wrote two science fiction novels with Burt Wetanson.  

The Hoobler's books have been cited many times for excellence by the New York Public Library in its annual publication Books for the Teen-Age and the Parents' Choice Foundation  They have also received significant awards from the National Council on the Social Studies and the Society for School Librarians International.  In 2005, the Mystery Writers of America gave the Hooblers an Edgar for their YA novel, In Darkness, Death, the third book in the Samurai Detective series.

Learn more about Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler at

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Agatha Christie Read-Along to mark an upcoming Hercule Poirot mystery

Book Club Girl is organizing an Agatha Christie Read-Along to mark the release of a new Hercule Poirot mystery, The Monogram Murders written by best selling author Sophie Hannah.  

The Monogram Murders: A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah
The blurb:
‘I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’
Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered.  She is terrified – but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.
Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London Hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim...
I'm such an Agatha Christie fan that I have to do this!  Have you read Agatha Christie recently?   Here's the schedule of the Read-Along, do join us!
July 30thDead Man’s Folly, and we can discuss the book and the premiere of the movie adaptation on Masterpiece Mystery airing July 27th.
September 2nd:  After the Funeral (be sure to pick up the new edition on sale August 5th with a foreword by Sophie Hannah explaining why this is her favorite Agatha Christie mystery)
October 6thThe Monogram Murders, featuring a guest post by author Sophie Hannah

Marcia Wells's debut novel: Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile**

Age Range: 9 - 12 years
Grade Level: 4 - 7
ISBN-10: 0544238338 - Hardcover $16.99
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (April 1, 2014), 256 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher and the Amazon Vine Program.

The blurb:
Sixth-Grader Edmund Xavier Lonnrot, code named "Eddie Red," has a photographic memory and a prodigious talent for drawing anything he sees.  When the NYPD is stumped by a mastermind art thief, Eddie becomes their secret weapon to solve the case, drawing Eddie deeper into NY's famous Museum Mile and closer to a dangerous criminal group known as the Picasso Gang.  Can Eddie help catch the thieves in time, or will his first big case be his last?

I loved Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile! I was hooked with the "Mystery on Museum Mile, but I'm having a hard time breaking down what exactly makes it such a fun and memorable read. It's clear that sixth grader Edmund Xavier Lonnrot is precocious, brilliant, and funny. His best friend is supposed to be even smarter than Edmund and suffers from ADHD and OCD. They're clearly targets for bullies and, sure enough, the boys suffer through all sorts of awful encounters. But even though they're scared, the two friends don't adjust their personalities - they stay their quirky and smart selves.

The book is told from Edmund's point of view and since he's unusually perceptive and witty, I was chuckling out loud. I haven't loved a character as much since I read Al Capone Does My Shirts. Plus, we find that Edmund is facing a real problem. He needs to use his unique talents to help identify and catch the mastermind art thief - if he does so, he'll be able to stay at his private school and with his friends. A lot of time is spent in the Metropolitan Museum, the Neue Gallery, and the Guggenheim Museum which adds another dimension to the book.

I'm trying not to give any spoilers - let me just say, buy this book for your child or your niece or nephew. I loved it and am pretty sure that they'll love it too.

I also liked that Eddie Red/Edmund Xavier Lonnrot is African American - race isn't an issue in the story, it's just part of their personality and background.

About the Author:
Marcia Wells lives with her husband and two young children in Vermont. This is her debut novel.  Learn more about her at

**We Need Diverse Books - lead character, Eddie Red, is a brilliant African American 6th grader.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Children's Book Totes at BEA 2014

For those of us who are relatively new to BEA, it still seems like a huge festival full of the most amazing things. Books, of course, but also all sorts of items celebrating books.  Authors, for one! The chance to see, speak with, and listen to some of our favorite authors.  To listen to panels and talks and learn about new books and authors, to learn about trends in publishing.  

And then seeing all these fun, book totes!  There are some publishers that spend a lot of time and money on their totes. Chronicle Books always comes up with something striking, something that everyone wants to carry around. This year aside from a fun black tote with stylized books, they also gave away small white totes with images by Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. Those small white totes were gone in a flash!

There are also the well constructed and eye catching totes that promote children's books.  There were many that I saw but wasn't able to take pictures of.  I hadn't thought to take pictures of the bags - but I'll do so next year!

Here are a few books that had their own custom book totes:
Simon & Schuster's Poached by Stuart Gibbs