Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Kate's Philadelphia Frenzy" -- A Mystery Full of Youthful Enthusiasm!

Kate's Philadelphia Frenzy
by Janice Hanna
Published by Barbour Publishing
Genre: Suspense/Mystery/Thriller
ISBN #1602602719
Reading level: Ages 9-12

Looking 'Under The Hood'

I bought "Kate's Philadelphia Frenzy" because I wanted to look 'under the hood' of a Christian fiction book directed towards 9 to 12 year old readers. I also hoped to find a book series that would make suitable gifts for youngsters. (I believe in giving books as presents.) While I am not normally a reader of children's books, I do like to read the Newbery winners because they are so well written.

A Wonderful Gift I Wish All Young Girls Would Read!

"Kate's Philadelphia Frenzy" is very well written. It should make a welcome gift for young girls. I found the mystery interesting enough to capture my attention! Of course, there is a lot to like in "Kate's Philadelphia Frenzy"! The father is a Penn State robotics professor who is idolized by his daughter. He is also an ideal father role model who allows his daughter to help him create patentable inventions in their basement workshop. One invention, their 'secret' project, is designed to help people who are paralyzed. This is a very good book for a father to read to his daughter – if he could keep her from reading it first!

A Learning Experience!

I was impressed by how many different things the author accomplishes in "Kate's Philadelphia Frenzy". Reading the story provides many learning experiences. For example, there's new vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, Christian values, life skills, friendship maintenance, baseball rules, and much more.

The reader will also observe excellent parental role models as well as children who are also admirable role models. Christian values are demonstrated and not preached. And what I like best, very often it is another child who does the 'teaching'. This is just as it naturally happens in real life. For example, in the story, it is Sydney, the athletic girl, who explains the rules of baseball to Kate who knows nothing about the sport.

Lifelong Friendships

I also enjoyed how the lifelong friendships were shown developing between the Camp Club Girls. The story shows how to be a good friend.

Children Are Always at Center Stage

I was surprised by how the adults played such a small part in the narrative. The book reminded me a little of the Peanuts cartoon strip in which adults were almost never pictured. "Kate's Philadelphia Frenzy" is a story for kids about kids. The youngsters are always the central focus of what's happening. The girls even say their prayers without being told by adults and more importantly their prayer requests are directed at helping others and not themselves.

Youthful Enthusiasm -- Fully Captured

The writing exudes youthful enthusiasm. The youngsters play hard, run everywhere, giggle, and feel free to stop and take their enjoyment right in the middle of 'serious business' – like solving the story's mystery. It's so funny. If the kids are in the middle of solving a mystery when they get a chance to go to a party, they will go to the party. Of course they will! They're kids.

Experiencing Things for the First Time!

It was also fun watching the youngsters experiencing things for the first time. The author is very much in tune with what it's like to be an 11-year old. I used to go to Phillies' games as a youngster and I had to marvel at how Kate reacts to her first baseball game. After noticing how big the park is, (it was the biggest place she had ever been), she goes on to notice all the other kids her age who are at the game and what they are doing -- especially what they are eating. (Kate eats too much junk food!) Looking at other kids my age is just what I did at my first baseball game! "Kate's Philadelphia Frenzy" just might let you see things like a youngster again!

Rich Three-Dimensional Characterization

I was especially impressed by how each of the youthful characters was so fully developed and memorable. The author seems to have taken great effort to make each of the Camp Club Girls unique and instantly recognizable from book to book. This is probably more important in youth fiction but I would have never thought of it on my own.

Teaching About Baseball

In solving the mystery the lead character, Kate, learns all about baseball by going to Phillies games. Her fellow Camp Club Girl, Sydney, explains baseball rules. Sydney is athletic and big for her age. She also eats health food, runs for exercise, and plans to be in the Olympics. Having peer-to-peer explanations about what is happening at the ball game is a nice touch. It also keeps adult 'on-camera' time to a minimum. These spunky kids look first to each other to get things done.

A Believable Mystery

Tony Smith, is a star player for the Philadelphia Phillies. He is also the father of Andrew one of Kate's school friends. The mystery involves finding out who is spreading rumors, on the internet, that Tony Smith is dissatisfied and wants to be traded. This untruth is turning some fans against Tony. Kate takes on the mission and quickly enlists the help of the other Camp Club Girls. These girls became friends when they all went to the same camp years ago. They live all over the country. Because the CCG solved a mystery in the first book, they now consider themselves to be super-sleuths. Each book involves a new mystery and different location. The Camp Club Girl books seem to have everything a great series needs.

A Great Gift! I loved it!

I may be biased. I love baseball. I loved the Phillies. I enjoyed being eleven years old again, at least, vicariously! Reading "Kate's Philadelphia Frenzy" is fun. It's a five star production. It's also full of surprises and high-tech gadgets of every kind.

I got hooked on books in the fifth grade when my aunt bought me a subscription to a children's book club. The book selections were so good, I renewed the subscription year after year. I've read more books each year since then. It would be wonderful to start a youngster on a similiar trip!

The Camp Club Girls -- Good Reading that's Fun to Read!


  1. Thank you so much, Vince! I'm so glad you enjoyed Kate's first story! I appreciate your enthusiastic response. Warms my heart!

  2. Hi Janice:

    Thanks for coming by. I really admire your work. I intend to make the CCGs gift books in the future.