Sunday, January 5, 2020

Book Review: 'KASSY O'ROARKE, Cub Reporter (Pet Detective Book 1)' by Kelly Oliver

KASSY O'ROARKE, Cub Reporter by Kelly Oliver

‘Kassy O’Roarke, Cub reporter, is going places’

Tennessee author Kelly Oliver earned her degrees from Gonzaga University and Northwestern University and is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. She has published numerous articles on such important issues as the refugee crisis, reproductive technologies, campus rape, women and the media, the environment, and animals. Her published books include the highly awarded adult fiction series, the Jessica James Mystery series, an historical mystery series debuted with ‘Miss Lemon’s Mysterious Assignment at Styles,’ and now she enters the children’s literature arena with KASSY O’ROARKE, CUB REPORTER - volume one of her projected Pet Detective Series. She lives in Nashville.

Writing for the age range 8 to 12 years is a challenge: keeping a story propelling while utilizing language to which youngsters can not only relate, but also learn is a trait Kelly has already mastered. She offers this fine Pet Detective mystery in the voice of the title character Kassy and maintains the prose in communication levels that involve and inspire the reader. 

An example of this gift is shared here: ‘The last bell rings. I rush out of class, dash down the hall, and skid to a stop in front of the newspaper rack. I grab the new issues of the school paper. The Cub Reporter is hot off the press. My palms are damp, and I’m panting just a bit. Knowing my article is somewhere in these pages makes my skin tingle all over. I squeeze through the crowded hallway and pop out the front door of the school building, I want to be alone when I see my name in print for the first time.’ In that passage Kelly transports the adult reader to that time in our lives when (age 8-12) everything in the world was a possible mystery worth probing. For middle school readers, a new identifiable heroine is born! For adults – welcome to an invitation to those younger days when the world was fresh and inviting. 

Filled with finely created characters, both human and animal, this brisk little novel is a spellbinder, one that is bound to gather a very strong audience committed to the series. This first installment is well summarized by the author – ‘Twelve-year-old Kassy O’Roarke wants to win the Thompson prize at her school newspaper. Her pesky little brother Percy and his key-stealing ferret try to help . . . and that’s when the trouble begins. Apollo the cougar cub goes missing from their family’s petting zoo. Kassy puts her detective skills to the test to find him before Animal Control does. Can Kassy outsmart the dogcatcher and rescue Apollo before being grounded for life?’

Accompanied by some illustrative highlights that make Kassy’s world visual, Kelly’s writing gifts prove equally as fine for children’s books as for her forays into adult fiction and articles. Very highly recommended.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.