Vanishing Acts: A Maggie Brooklyn Mystery
by Leslie Margolis
Bloomsbury Press, January, 2012
One of the thrills of being a New Yorker is having an intimate relationship with the setting of a great many movies and novels. There’s something about recognizing parks, street names, buildings and shops as your own when you are reading or watching. Does it make you relate more closely to the character? I think so.
So what could be a better series for the young Sloper than the Maggie Brooklyn Series by Leslie Margolis. It’s set right here in our very own neighborhood. And it’s not just that Maggie’s middle name is Brooklyn, or that the series is billed as being set in Park Slope. Brooklyn is practically a character. The mysteries that Maggie solves are mysteries that could only unfold on our streets, in our park, our café’s and the conflicts could only be resolved amidst these brownstones.
Vanishing Acts, is the second book in the Maggie Brooklyn Series. In it Maggie faces not one but two mysteries. First, who would be sick enough to egg Park Slope’s hapless dog population? And secondly, where has Seth Ryan, teen heartthrob and star of the latest film to be shot on 2nd Street, disappeared to? Maggie is most definitely a Seth Ryan fan, but the mystery of his disappearance is really what she finds irresistible. Seth certainly doesn’t make her melt in the same way that Milo Sanchez—a tall boy with liquid brown eyes and perfectly floppy hair—does. Maggie is so wrapped up in her role of detective, however, that she doesn’t seem to notice what’s right in front of her nose—that her obsession with a certain movie star’s plight might be killing her chances at romance or that her best friend Lucy might be involved a little triste of her own. Will she figure it out before it’s too late? And if she does, will she still have time left over to rescue the canine community?
It’s a relief to know that someone is still interested in writing mysteries for a middle grade audience. It’s a genre that’s been given short shrift of late. That’s a shame, because they are perfect for the 9 to 12 set—they encourage the reader to make predictions, think logically, and reinforce a lot of other skills necessary for reading comprehension. The mysteries in this particular book weren’t the trickiest I’ve come across—but they were mysteries nonetheless and the story was quite satisfying. Furthermore, this series features an intrepid young heroine–similar to Winnie of Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen—who’s easy to get attached to. Witty and resourceful, compassionate and lovable, Maggie is just the kind of girl that you want your daughter to relate to. And she lives right next door.