________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 20. . . .January 29, 2016


The Case of the Snack Snatcher. (West Meadows Detectives 1).

Liam O’Donnell. Illustrated by Aurélie Grand.
Toronto, ON: Owlkids, 2015.
126 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-77147-069-8.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Ruth McMahon.

***½ /4



Everything was new. New Shirt. New shoes. New school.

I don’t like new.

“Hurry up, Myron!” Mom shouted from the edge of the schoolyard. She was not new. The screaming baby in her arms? Totally new. Sofia, my baby sister. She’s eight months old. When a baby is eight months old, it is still new. So I guess I should say she’s eight months new. When it’s a baby, it cries a lot. And that gets old really fast.

I stood at the school gates. I crossed my arms.

“Stop digging your heels into the sidewalk,” Mom said. “Let’s go!”

I wasn’t really digging my heels into the sidewalk. That would be impossible. The sidewalk is made of concrete. My heels are made of skin, bone, muscles and blood. And I only had running shoes on. It was an expression. I don’t like expressions, either.

Expressions are when someone says one thing and means another thing. For example, when people say, “I’m feeling blue today,” they don’t mean their skin has turned blue. They mean they’re sad. Why don’t they just say, “I’m sad”? Expressions are confusing. They are not the truth. The truth is very important to detectives like me.


internal artMyron Matthews is starting grade three in a new school, and he does not like new. Myron is autistic which qualifies him for a unique classroom experience in the mornings and regular classroom in the afternoon. He is happy with his morning situation where he can organize himself and some of his things. The afternoon situation is more stressful for Myron particularly integrating with the other students in the class.

     As one can see from the excerpt, Myron takes things literally which causes him and those around him some challenges, but it also enables him to focus on the literal which makes him a great detective.

     The mystery starts on the first day of school when a scream comes from the school kitchen. Myron and his teacher race to the source of the sound and find the school kitchen chaotic and food everywhere. The cook announces someone has stolen the morning snacks. And thus Myron’s first case at West Meadows Elementary School begins. He is joined in the caper by his new friend, Hajrah.

     The Case of the Snack Catcher is a delightful mystery story with enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing while providing opportunities for some character development. Considering the brevity of the book, the lead characters are quite well developed and manage to step outside their labels and become rounded, engaging kids. As a family that is intimately acquainted with the challenges of autism, I can attest that Mr. O’Donnell’s rendering of Myron is believable and handled with loving care. On the other hand, the bullies are pretty stock characters, but they help flesh out the plot.

     The Case of the Snack Catcher, an offering from the established author Liam O’Donnell, will be a welcome addition to any library and would make a great gift for a developing reader.

Highly Recommended.

Ruth McMahon, a professional librarian working in a Middle School library in Alberta, has two teenaged daughters.

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

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