________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 27. . . .March 18, 2016


The Egyptian Cat Mystery. (Race Further with Reading).

Penny Dolan. Illustrated by Andy Elkerton.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2015.
48 pp., pbk. & hc., $10.95 (pbk.), $23.49 (RLB).
ISBN 978-0-7787-2108-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-2060-7 (RLB).

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Jill Griffith.

*** /4



“Look at this!” There, on Mom’s tablet, was the image of an ancient Egyptian princess. “It says here that she’s supposed to haunt the museum. You know, she reminds me of somebody, but I can’t think who.” Jed and Ruby just smiled.


Jed and Ruby’s trip to the Egyptian galleries of the museum results in an adventure of epic proportions when they pseudo-adopt a cat, meet a ghost, and are whisked back into Ancient Egypt to solve a mystery.

     The Egyptian Cat Mystery is part of the Crabtree “Race Further with Reading” series, the next level up for young readers from Crabtree’s “Race Ahead with Reading” series. Most titles in the RFWR series are mysteries, a lucrative move by the publisher since mysteries are favourites among the targeted age group. There is good use of suspense in this title, building from one chapter to the next to pique reader interest. It also doesn’t hurt that the subject is Ancient Egypt, another winner with the 7 to 9-year-old set. The reading level is listed as Grade 3 and, at 48 pages, it’s a manageable chapter book for one or two sittings. The rich vocabulary will build children’s reading skills while they have fun with the subject matter.

      Illustrations break up the text and are fun. I like the use of modern technology, such as cell phones, texting and tablets. The colourful illustrations do not distract the reader from the text but keep early readers interested in the subject matter and keeps the story flowing.

     This is a good transition series for readers who are graduating from picture books and early readers to chapter books. As a librarian, however, I’m not a fan of the “Notes for Adults” at the back, particularly questions like “What moral, or lesson, can you take from this story?” Instead of young readers just enjoying the story, books become lessons and teaching tools. If children are expected to analyze books when they are just learning to read them, it will sour their future reading experiences. The opinions stated here are solely my own, but it’s a pet peeve of mine. Crabtree is an educational publisher, however, and so this afterword does fall within their mandate.

     All in all, a solid series that will entertain children on their journey towards reading proficiency.


Jill Griffith is the Youth Services Manager at Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.

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

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