Tuesday, October 27, 2009

children's book review: rescuing seneca crane by susan runholt

Rescuing Seneca Crane is the second book in the Kari & Lucas mystery series. I adored The Mystery of the Third Lucretia, the first book in the series, and I devoured this one during the read-a-thon. The story picks up only a few months after the first novel ends. It's late summer, and the girls are off to Edinburgh, Scotland with Kari's mom, who is interviewing teenage piano prodigy Seneca Crane for a magazine piece. Kari and Lucas befriend Seneca, who has accomplished a lot professionally, but has had little room for a normal, teenage social life. As the title indicates (it's literal, not figurative), Seneca is soon kidnapped, and Kari and Lucas find themselves in the middle of another caper in a foreign country.

Once again, Susan Runholt does a tremendous job of describing locations. Edinburgh and the other towns of Scotland are like characters in this novel. The misunderstanding of the Scottish accent provided several laugh out loud moments for me. I loved this book as an adult reader, which is not always true of children's books. (A side note about grade level: the characters are teenagers, and teens would certainly enjoy it, but I think it's also appropriate for elementary readers too.) Runholt also deftly educates the readers while entertaining them. I learned a lot about classical music, Scotland and history along the way, but I was mostly aware of the adventure I was on and wondering how Kari and Lucas would solve the mystery and rescue Seneca Crane.

If you haven't read The Mystery of the Third Lucretia, please read it first. This book is just as good, but you'll love it more if you already know Kari and Lucas. I personally enjoyed Lucretia a little bit more because I enjoy art more than classical music, and I've been to most of the places Kari and Lucas visited in Lucretia. I haven't been to Scotland yet, but with Runholt's descriptions I could certainly picture myself there, and I do want to visit Scotland even more desperately now.

What's next for Kari and Lucas? Kenya! Adventure at Simba Hill is set in Nairobi and once again features art, this time stolen cave art. There's no release date yet, but I'll do my best to read it as soon as it's published (if not before) and let you know. In the mean time, enjoy the first two Kari and Lucas mysteries, and pass them along to all the young women (and boys!) in your life! Also, visit Susan Runholt's Web site; it has some fantastic features, including a world map featuring cities Kari and Lucas have visited or are going to visit.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5 stars) - Wow!
Pages: 288
Publication date: August 20, 2009
Source: my local public library

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