The five Wiley kids are longtime friends that live in Wiley Park. Theirs is a typical middle school life filled with friends, study halls, cell phones, homework, bullies, and mysteries. No, the last one, solving mysteries, is theirs alone. The Mystery of the Cucamonga Moon is written from their point of view, with each chapter being told by a different character. The Wiley kids use their individual talents to figure out the meaning of a cryptic message found in a Japanese tea cake. That message, when decoded, leads them to another, more complicated message; that message leads down another path, until they finally solve the mystery of who stole the painting titled, “The Cucamonga Moon.”
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There is a rich history of child detectives in popular children’s literature; Encyclopedia Brown and the A to Z Mysteries are only two examples. Those series, however, are written for a younger audience, children ages 7-10. The market for mysteries in the next older age bracket (9-12) is wide open.
There are some really slick features that have been incorporated in this book. It opens with a music video that transports the reader to Wiley Park, as seen through the character’s eyes. Because of the multicultural background of some of the characters, there are unfamiliar words and phrases used in the dialogue. These are linked to audio files for pronunciation or video files for explanations. When they mention favorite music, a link takes the reader to a YouTube video. My favorite new word that I learned reading the book was omikuji, which in Chinese means “fortune.”
The Wiley Kids: The Mystery of the Cucamonga Moon is written specifically for the middle school age child and available for the iPad. The story gets contrived by the end, but I can forgive that because I think kids will enjoy it despite its literary shortcomings. It’s an easy read and the antics of Neil, Kyle, Millie, Freddie, and Sleater will give your child the experience of being drawn into the story to find out what happens next. With no provocative language and no inappropriate content, it is suitable for all children. For all these reasons, we make it a Top Pick.
The Wiley Kids: The Mystery of the Cucamonga Moon is available for download via the iTunes App Store - iBook APP - This book can only be viewed using iBooks 3.0 or later on an iPad. iOS 5.1 or later is required.
Julie P. - I am a speech/language pathologist (SLP) currently working in a school setting, serving children with special needs ages 6-14. I am happy to see more developers producing quality content for older kids.
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