Secrets in September

Author: Doreen McAvoy

Publisher: Lake Elk Publishing

Age Range: 9 -14

What a great effort from newcomer author, Doreen McAvoy.  As a teacher and school librarian, McAvoy knows her readership well.  The dialogue and interactions between her young characters ring true. For the young people in this book, life revolves around friends, school, family and community.

Community life is captured beautifully in this story. People’s lives are intertwined with stories that span generations.  While our main characters, Will and Wendy, concern themselves with friendships, sports and community events, a strange mystery starts to evolve. Middle grade readers will love the fact that twenty and fifty dollar bills keep showing up randomly throughout the story. The mystery drives the story and keeps readers turning the pages. Ultimately, the resolution is satisfying – the bad guy gets found out and the kids are heroes.

Will and Wendy regularly go to St Theresa’s church on Sundays where they engage with other families from their community. In Sunday School, the children work on a project about the ten commandments while real life moral dilemmas are grappled with.  Although the children’s religious beliefs are not the main focus of this story, they are clearly motivated by virtues of honesty, loyalty and courage.

Author, Doreen McAvoy

Young readers will find the characters relatable and will identify with Will and Wendy.  This is an enjoyable read about a close and busy community of families and young people. Why not encourage Doreen McAvoy by buying her first book, Secrets in September? It is an easy read that most young readers will enjoy.

Homeschool and Teacher Ideas

This text would be great to include in a wide ranging reading unit about the mystery genre.  There are countless texts that might be included under the ‘mystery’ genre.  Catholic books would include Search for the Hidden Garden Or Secret of the Hidden Scrolls for younger readers, or  the Sisters of the Last Straw,  7 Secrets to Nowhere, or for older readers Secrets Visible and Invisible or the Roland West series could be included.

After reading through a range of texts I would be asking students and homeschoolers to create/write/produce their own mystery story.

Here are some prompts to support students as they break down the elements of ‘Mystery’ as a genre.

https://www.penguin.com/static/packages/us/yreaders/camjansen/CamDownloadables/FiveEssentialElementsofaMystery.pdf

https://www.scholastic.com/content/dam/teachers/lesson-plans/migrated-featured-files/jan_ingredientsmystery.pdf

http://teacher.scholastic.com/reading/bestpractices/comprehension/genrechart.pdf

https://www.readwritethink.org/sites/default/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson865/elements.pdf

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