Stephanie Barden has written a cute little story about a young girl named Ella who needs to do a research report of endangered species, but all the books she needs to use have been checked out from her school library. Although she can find material on her subject, she is required to use print materials in her report (I love that teacher). She goes back for them the day they are due, but finds out that the books were renewed. So, she must come back, AGAIN. However, the librarian tells her that she will now put a hold on the books; so that when they are returned, they will be kept at her desk for Ella (Cinderella). When she gets a message from the librarian that the books are in, she goes to the library to pick them up only to discover that someone has stolen them from the librarian’s desk.
She begins to try to figure out who would want to sabotage her report, and several classmates pop to mind. But her immediate concern in not finding the culprit, but finishing her report. After a trip to the public library where she finds the books she needs, she gets a mysterious note saying, “Look behind J.” She tries to figure out the message, but no ideas come to mind. The due date for the report is looming, but she still wants to figure out what happened to the books and why her former best friend is acting so strangely.
This is a cute little mystery book and will serve to introduce young readers to the genre. This appears to be part of a series, although I am not familiar with it. I do recommend this book for readers in third through fifth grade,
I love the library references and the way the story is used to teach students what librarians, both school and public, can do for them. The series has the possibility to become like the Nancy Drew mysteries for younger readers..