Dani and the Mall Caper
Book 2: Dani P Detective Series
by K. Lamb
Author K. Lamb’s Dani and the Mall Caper, the second of her Dani P. Detective Series, is a magnetic early chapter book, especially appealing to primary-grade girls. It follows the escapades of two young junior detectives who take down the baddies at the local shopping center, despite mishap, mayhem, and misunderstanding.
Character and Plot:
Almost-eight-years-old junior detective Dani P. Spinelli has an uncanny knack for solving mysteries. This overall-wearing, baseball-cap-sporting tomboy is sworn in by Uncle Joe, sheriff of Shady Hollow, as the town’s first junior detective. She’s also a also tech-savvy, 21st-century kid, who carries a smart phone and texts adults when she’s in trouble.
Dani’s friend and polar opposite, fashionista Chloe Marshall, follows Dani on undercover assignment to the Shady Hollow Mall for security surveillance. Despite their differences, the characters have an affectionate rapport and Lamb writes energetic, kid-centric dialogue, as in this exchange between the two girls at the mall:
“Let’s go check out that dress I saw when we got here,” Chloe suggested.
Throughout the story, Lamb adds colorful secondary characters: sneaky Pretzel Guy at Twisters Pretzel Shop; helpful Mr. Gibbons, who manages Gizmo and Gadget store. Such characters bring dimension to the plot as they help or hinder the girls in their quest to keep the mall safe.
The author knows how to appeal to her young audience and keeps the action (and chuckles) moving with bursts of child-pleasing ploys that involve shoelaces, remote-control toys, and electric scooters.
Format and Illustrations:
True to the nature of early chapter books, Lamb keeps her chapters short, about six to seven pages each, to hold children’s attention without taxing their developing reading skills.
Each chapter contains a simple graphic header and a single, full-page black-and-white image to reinforce understanding of the chapter’s main idea. There is plenty of white space between lines and paragraphs, so children won’t feel overwhelmed by too much text.
Lamb prefaces her book with a note to parents about identifying and unraveling “challenge words” that the author sprinkles throughout the book. She ends with ten comprehension questions and one challenge question to tickle recall; answers are provided on the following page. There is also a puzzle maze.
I am most impressed with Lamb’s savvy in reaching her target audience of young readers through dialogue, brisk pacing, and age-appealing plot shifts.
I highly recommend Dani P and the Mall Caper for children in grades 1-4. Girls, especially, will fall in love with Dani P. and wish they had a friend like Chloe.
I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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