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Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11: 01/21/18
Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11 by N. Griffin is an upper elementary aged mystery. The class hamster has gone missing and Smashie decides she needs to figure our who did it.
I get that kids that age spend most of their time in school but there are only so many wacky classroom stories I can plow through before my brain starts to turn to mush.
To make this book stand out, we're first given a titular character with a wacky name. Nothing says appealing more than a nickname you've never heard before.
Now to add to the mix, change the usual setting. Give the class a substitute. Make the substitute significantly different. If the original teacher is female, make the new one male. Or visa versa.
Then make something GO WRONG. Make it something get canceled or scheduled that normally isn't. Put the kids in a pageant or a play or put them in charge of some school wide event. Or in this case, have the class pet go missing.
Have whatever the wrong thing is be something the main character is really not into, bad at, scared of, or have some tragic history with. In this case, Smashie doesn't like the hamster, so everyone thinks she's part of its disappearance.
Make the main character have to get into the thing they don't like. Hilarity will ensue and eventually the main character will have a change or heart, maybe do some character growth, and come out a better and possibly more popular person.
Yes, this book does all these things. It's a little After School Special in print. If you have a class pet, have a thing for hamsters, then go ahead and read the book. If you don't, feel free to skip it.