Title: The Danger Box
Author: Blue Balliett
I loved Blue Balliett's art mystery Chasing Vermeer. I thought it was genius for the middle grade market and like The Westing Game, I was genuinely guessing about the whodunnit portion of the book for the majority of the novel. Although I wanted to read the two successive books with the characters from Chasing Vermeer, I never got around to it, and I decided to jump right in to The Danger Box.
It's a cute story about an anxious, legally blind boy named Zoomy, who's been raised by his grandparents in a small Michigan town, and who finds himself at the center of a mystery when his ne'er-do-well father returns to town with a mysterious diary. Zoomy and his friend Lorrel (who is also a little quirky) decide to figure out who owned the diary. I loved the combination of Zoomy's narration, the bad guy's narration, and newspaper articles. I also liked the characters of Zoomy and Lorrel, and want my quirky, anxious kid to read the story for that reason. However, I felt that Chasing Vermeer was ultimately more rewarding for an adult reader. I knew exactly who wrote the mysterious diary within five pages of opening the book, and it seemed pretty obvious to any adult reader. I'll have my kids read it to figure out if they thought it was predictable too.