________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 17. . . .January 8, 2016


Betty Q Investigates. (Race Further with Reading).

Karyn Gorman. Illustrated by Maddy McClellan.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2015.
48 pp., pbk. & hc., $10.95 (pbk.), $23.49 (RLB).
ISBN 978-0-7787-2090-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-2029-4 (RLB).

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Chasity Findlay.

*** /4



From the beginning, Mr. and Mrs. Q knew their baby daughter was smart. After all, it’s not every day you see a baby looking after their family’s finances.

But Betty Q was more than smart. She was like a walking computer in ballet slippers.

“Betty, what’s a six letter word meaning one and only,” asked Dad.

“Unique,” chirped Betty.

“Your new invention works like a charm,” Mom said.

“Just something I’ve been playing around with,” said Betty.

Of course, once word got out, things got pretty busy around the Q residence. Everyone wanted Betty Q’s help, and the doorbell didn’t stop ringing!

Ding Dong!

“We’re here to recruit Betty Q,” said a government official.

Ding Dong!

“Ever considered the space program, Betty Q?”

Ding Dong!

“Who is it, Betty?” asked Mom.

“No one important,” answered Betty.

Nevertheless, Betty Q turned them all down. She just wanted to be a regular kid and do regular kid things.

But in Betty’s hometown of Dullville, regular things never seemed to happen.


Betty Q is an extraordinary young girl. She has unique skills and talents, ranging from taking care of the family’s finances to creating robots. Various people are trying to recruit Betty Q for her talents, but she just wants to be a kid. But that’s not to say that Betty Q doesn’t use her talents at all. In this book, Betty Q uses her powers of observation to solve mysteries in her hometown of Dullville. Over the course of a school day, Betty Q uses her investigative skills to solve the mysteries of missing cupcakes and a missing show poodle. Betty Q Investigates is part of Crabtree’s “Race Further with Reading” series. This series, full of action packed chapter books, is designed to help young readers gain independence through reading high interest books. The books contain short chapters that introduce readers to the structure of chapter books while maintaining a manageable length. This series combines illustrations and text to help children develop their vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. The books also include a page of before, during, and after reading discussion questions for adults to pose to readers. The questions support literacy skill development and an engaging reading experience.

     Betty Q Investigates consists of five chapters. In these chapters, readers are introduced to Betty Q and her special talents which she uses to help her classmates and friends solve mysteries. I believe that readers will enjoy reading about the Betty Q’s adventures while developing their reading comprehension skills. The book will also support children in building their vocabulary through the introduction of several new words. Some examples include “burgled”, “alibi”, and “conundrum”. These words will likely be understood in the context of the story and through discussion with the adults with whom the books are being shared.

     By merging picture book and chapter book styles, books in the “Race Further with Reading” series assist beginning readers in achieving independence as they transition to reading chapter books. Each page has one or more small illustrations that support the text. Illustrator Maddy McClellan has effectively created simple, yet detailed, illustrations that complement the written text while allowing readers to stay focussed on the important messages conveyed in the book. The book has more text on each page than most picture books, but not so much so as to be overwhelming to beginning readers of chapter books. It strikes the perfect balance of picture book and chapter book.

     Betty Q Investigates is a whimsical, light hearted text that teaches readers the importance of close listening and observation. I believe children will leave a reading of this text knowing the importance of using their own special talents to help their friends and family. After reading Betty Q Investigates, readers may be likely to explore other texts in the “Race Further with Reading” series to develop their independence and confidence in reading chapter books.


Chasity Findlay is a high school English teacher and a graduate student at the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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