Smart writing for a younger reader – Scoop McLaren Detective Editor

Author: Helen Castles
Illustrator: Beatriz Castro
Publisher: New Frontier

Scoop McLaren : Detective Editor - Helen Castles

Scoop McLaren is a great character – editor of ‘Click, an online newspaper. Her father is the editor of the town’s print newspaper, ‘Higgity Harbour’, so journalism runs in Scoop’s family.

Higgity Harbour, usually a sleepy little coastal town, appears to be besieged by numerous disasters. I have to admit that the catastrophes that overwhelm the town are a bit hard to comprehend at times – but that was my rational inner adult voice. I realised that these disasters are precisely what makes the book so engaging for a young reader.

Higgity Harbour is engulfed by alligators, storms of frogs, snowstorms in summer, children being turned into stone and mysterious buildings being burnt to the ground. Higgity Harbour is a town in peril and Scoop is determined to work out what is happening to her beloved town.

Scoop runs the online newspaper and her newspaper is widely read (more so than her dad’s print newspaper), so when a new online publication is launched, she is upset. More distressing for Scoop is that ‘The Dark News’ appears to have the inside scoop on all the calamities occurring in her town. Published at precisely one minute past midnight every night, it predicts all the disasters that the town will experience causing more upheaval and distress to the locals.

Scoop and her trusted sidekick Evie are determined to expose the editor of ‘The Dark News’, the wicked Sonny Fink as the person responsible for all the disasters occurring in Higgity Harbour.  But the trouble is that Sonny Fink appears to have the upper hand and Scoop and Evie appear to be on the backfoot to Sonny’s evil reign of confusion and chaos.

Scoop McLaren: Detective Editor is a fun, captivating story for middle-grade readers. Along with Scoop and Evie, the reader can figure out the clues and determine who Sonny Fink is. It is a great mystery novel and a wonderful book to introduce children to this genre. Helen Castles has pitched the style of writing to younger readers beautifully with enough suspense to keep a younger reader hooked, but without overwhelming them. The reader feels like they are investigating the case alongside Sonny and Evie and are taken on every twist and turn that Sonny and Evie experience.

Not only is the book a great mystery, but it is also funny and witty. It is smart humour. Castles had assembled a great cast of characters that all play an integral part in the novel – every aspect adds to the story and sets the reader up to be invested in the town of Higgity Harbour. Scoop Mclaren: Detective Editor is also cleverly illustrated by Beatriz Castro and the illustrations, particularly the front cover adds another layer to the story.

Helen Castles is on to a winner with this book and hopefully series. It is exciting to see a smart, humorous and engaging mystery book being written for younger readers.

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