Later on, we graduated to the more contemporary (for the 1980s, anyway) Trixie Belden mystery series. Not only was Trixie more up-to-date, but her best friend Honey owned horses and that was a deal-maker for us at that age.
But what is there for our newest generation of pre-teens? Vampire books? Gossip Girl? Turn of the century sexcapades masquerading as historical fiction? We think not.
A Reader's Respite is simply smitten with author Susan Runholt's new Kari + Lucas Mystery series! If you haven't heard of these books yet, trust us, you will.
Runholt's young protagonists are sharp, witty, kind-hearted and genuinely engaging characters. Their adventures are told by Kari in one of the most unique voices to come along in years. The adventures are steeped in history, art and literature as Kari and Lucas find themselves swept up in mysteries around the globe. Sound fantastical? Believe it or not, each story is completely plausible. You see, Kari and Lucas travel with Kari's mother, a writer for an international teen magazine.
In the series debut, The Mystery of the Third Lucretia, Kari and Lucas find themselves embroiled in the mystery of a newly-discovered Rembrandt painting. Don't know much about the Lucretia paintings? Don't worry, Kari will fill you in:
"Lucretia was this woman who supposedly lived in the sixth century BCE. This was, like, when they used to have gladiators. She was married to a Roman soldier who was always bragging about what a wonderful, good, pure, loving woman his wife was.
When he was off fighting some war, a guy named Sextus Tarquinius, one of his rivals, sneaked back to Rome and flirted with Lucretia to try to get her to have an affair with him. She wouldn't, so he raped her.
Now back in those days it wasn't bad enough that a woman had that kind of thing happen to her. What made it even worse was that it totally wrecked her reputation. A lot of women who got attacked like that would have been kicked out of their house. It was the kind of thing that makes my mother go on and on about what a rotten deal women have always gotten. I have to admit, it does seem pretty unfair.
Anyway, Lucretia was a truly good person. So she called her husband and her father back from the war and told them about what had happened to her. They said it wasn't her fault and it wasn't that big of a deal. But because it was so dishonourable, she picked up a dagger and killed herself. Can you believe that? Even though she didn't do anything wrong!
By the way, I'm not making this up. This may not be absolutely true, but it's a real legend. Google it."
The Mystery of the Third Lucretia, by Susan Runholt
Now if that short excerpt isn't enough to convince you that this series is fun and unique, I don't know what will.
The Mystery of the Third Lucretia was released to all sorts of acclaim (even Booklist loved it, surprise surprise) and Runholt is following up with the next book in the series, entitled Rescuing Seneca Crane. This time, the girls find themselves in Scotland rescuing a kidnapped young piano protoge. Music, history and architecture abound in this second installment, which we daresay is even better than the first.
Now I hear you all wondering for what age group these books would be appropriate? The protagonists are fourteen, so you'd have to make your best guess from there. But we can't recommend them highly enough and trust us on this, you'll want to devour them yourselves!