Room One: A Mystery or Two, by Andrew Clements

Room One: A Mystery or Two.  By Andrew Clements; illustrated by Chris Blair. Simon and Schuster, 2006. 192 pages. $5.99

Plot: Ted, the only 6th grader in his 10-student school, loves mysteries.  He challenges himself to guess the outcome of mystery novels he reads after getting halfway through the books, and he often gets it right.  But one morning while riding his bike delivery papers along his paper route he sees a girl looking out the window of an abandoned farmhouse.  Who is she?  Why is she there?  Ted uses real life detective skills as he searches for answers.  Along the way, Ted learns about friendship, loyalty, and compassion.

Review: This is a charming story of contemporary, small town life.  There are so many people leaving the area that Ted’s school may even be shut down due to low enrollment.  Ted is curious, maybe even nosy, but always ethical and thoughtful.  The writing flows nicely, and is accessible for younger tweens.  The story has enough depth to work for older tweens, particularly those who don’t like scary mysteries, as this one has a bit of suspense, but is not frightening.  To some extent, this book reads more like a great realistic fiction story than a mystery, though there are elements of mysteries and detective work.  Ted’s dry sense of humor, kindness, and sometimes faulty, but well-meaning, decisions, make him an appealing and likable character.  Giving some attention to issues like the Iraq war and homelessness, this book has a social conscience and gives the reader pause for thought.  Small, simple black and white drawings sprinkled throughout the book add a nice touch of emphasis to certain events of the story.

Genre(s): Realistic Fiction, Mystery, Adventure

Reading/Interest Level: 9-12 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook

ISBN: 978-0689866876

Subjects: friendship, homelessness, veterans, poverty

Selected Awards: 2007 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery

Character names

Ted Hammond: main character, resident of rural Plattsford, NE, the only 6th grader in his school, loves mysteries, sees a girl in the window of an abandoned farmhouse and decides to find out who she is and why she is there

April: the girl Ted sees in the window

Mrs. Mitchell: Ted’s teacher, he confides in Mrs. Mitchell and she helps Ted when he needs it

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