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Who Is Stealing the 12 Days of Christmas?
By Martha Freeman
Holiday House, 2003

Who Is Stealing the 12 Days of Christmas? is the first in the Chickadee Court Mysteries series. These are fairly short chapter books for children, all Following the adventures of Alex Parakeet and Yasmeen Popp. The series as a whole is light, humorous, and well plotted.

The neighborhood of Chickadee Court has one claim to fame: its Twelve Days of Christmas decoration display, which the entire street works to put together each year. This year, someone is stealing pieces of the display -- specifically, the birds. Alex and his best friend who is also a girl, Yasmeen, are on the case, with the help of Alex's possibly (but probably not) psychic supersleuth cat. Along the way they meet a weird (but nice) neighbor, come by some ill-gotten loot, and attend a birthday party. They are just 10 years old, after-all.

Meanwhile, Alex's mother -- who is also the local police detective -- is investigating a rash of toy thefts. Alex is able to help, as he is a bit of expert on these toys: a cross between Pokemon and Beanie Babies, a highly collectible card game based around small stuffed rodents dressed as famous historical warriors. His mom doesn't really get it. But the right mouse can be worth thousands, so the police are taking it seriously.

This is a light, easy, and fun mystery; it is well plotted and structured, and Alex is an amusing and engaging narrator. It is appropriate for 8-14 year olds while still being a fun, if brief, read for adults. It is also an appropriate read-aloud for younger kids.

The next book in the series is Who Stole Halloween?; and yes, the entire series will resolve around holiday-based crimes.

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