Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Case of the Case of the Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Adam Rex

Image from
Simon and Schuster, 2009

You might think that Steve Brixton is just an ordinary kid who would rather read all 59 books in the Bailey Brothers mystery series instead of write an 8 page research paper on early American needlework. But that’s where you’d be wrong. Steve is actually a detective or at least he will be after he figures out the whereabouts of a valuable piece of American history. In the meantime, he has to dodge Rick the less-than-bright policeman who is dating his mother, a squad of secret government agents (aka librarians), and the mysterious Mr. E. Will Steve and his best friend Dana be able to solve this tricky case and finish their research papers by Monday morning? With the help of The Bailey Brothers’ Detective Handbook they just might be able to save the day (no guarantees on the papers though)!

The first in the Brixton Brothers series this action-packed story is a tongue-in-cheek spin on classic Hardy Boys stories. In short chapters, Barnett creates a world in which the ridiculous is taken seriously making for some truly outlandish and funny situations. Written in third person, the plot has plenty of twists and completes with a satisfying ending in which Steve reveals the most unlikely suspect to be the villain. Rex’s pen and ink illustrations, done in classic mystery series style, add context and humor to the story. Gloriously dated bits of the fictional detective handbook are included along with illustrations demonstrating how to identify a bad guy or tie a rope from bed sheets. This quick read is great for reluctant or below level readers.

Read an excerpt of the book. Can you solve the mystery before Steve does?

*Follow these directions to make a secret book box like Steve does in the book.

*Check out the official Brixton Brothers website for more fun stuff.

*Pair this book with a Hardy Boys mystery. Compare and contrast Steve and Dana to Frank and Joe. How are the characters and plots similar or different?

*Read about the further adventures of Steve and Dana in the other Brixton Brothers books:

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Boom by Mark Haddon
The Sammy Keyes series by Wendelin Van Draanen
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Age 8+ / Grade 3+


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