Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader: The Mistaken Masterpiece by Michael D. Beil

Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader is a feature in which my eleven-year-old son, John, reviews books as a formerly reluctant reader. He gives his opinion of the book, detailing why he thinks this book would be good for reluctant readers.

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (June 14, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0375867406
  • Source: Publisher
  • In the third book in the Red Blazer Girls series, Catholic school girls Sophie, Margaret, Becca, and Leigh Ann are on an investigation of another mystery.

    The book starts off with a swim practice.  Sophie is sharing a lane with her arch-nemesis, Livvy. When Livvvy “accidentally” hits Sophie in the nose, breaking it, Sophie can’t get over the idea she did it on purpose.  As if that isn’t bad enough, Sophie & the other girls are supposed to meet Nate Ethan, their movie star crush, actor in a vampire movie called No Reflections.

    The meeting goes over well, Nate is so impressed by Sophie that he asks her to watch his dog, Tillie, while he travels. Sophie has always wanted a dog…plus how could she say no to Nate? Meanwhile, Father Julian has asked them to help authenticate a painting that has been in his family for years. Problem is, the painting in his possession might be a fake; it is up to the Red Blazer Girls to determine if it is real.

    So, while trying to keep under control a dog that has a sudden change in behavior, a jealous not-really boyfriend, oh, and a broken nose, the girls must find a way to proof the painting is real. Oh, and let’s not forget the secret odd packages Sophie begins to receive. Who is sending these random packages and what do they represent?

    John’s Review: Ok, I admit, when my mom asked me to read and review this book with her I wasn’t too thrilled about it.  Really? A book about a bunch of school girls who solve mysteries?  I wasn’t convinced…at first.  But then they started talking about baseball, and other things I found pretty interesting and I was won over! I started to forget that the characters were girls. Ok, not really forget but it wasn’t that big a deal.  Oh, and the vampire movie actor? That almost turned me off to this book, too.  However, in the end, I became very excited about the mystery the girls were investigating and decided the other things didn’t matter.  In my opinion, this book would be perfect for both boys & girls in 4-6th grade. I enjoyed it!  My mom got copies of the two previous books on CD and I can’t wait to listen to them! These girls get in a lot of messes, but seem to be able to find their way out of them!

    Jenn’s Review: Yes, I too was skeptical when I asked John to review this book with me.  As a child, I grew up reading Nancy Drew and other female-led mystery books.  I can confess to wanting to relive my childhood, right? In any case, I was really impressed with this book & it’s ability to keep John’s attention, despite the female characters.  He really enjoyed the main character, Sophie, a no-nonsense girl.

    The pacing was spot-on, the storyline kept John’s attention throughout.  We had some great discussions about art, baseball history, etc. I’m happy he wants to continue the series becaus I do as well!

    While this is the third book in the series, in our opinion it is possible to pick up the series with this book, without reading the prior two.  The author gives substantial character history and back story so the reader becomes familiar with the characters right away.

    If you are looking for a middle-grade book with strong female lead characters, this is the book for you! Highly recommended.

    Check back tomorrow for a guest post (and giveaway) by the author, Michael Beil!

    9 thoughts on “Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader: The Mistaken Masterpiece by Michael D. Beil

    1. I’m glad to see you were open enough to give this a try, John. I just love it when I end up liking a book I was skeptical about. I hope you’ll have time to do more reviews this summer.



    2. Just wait until he hits puberty. If he is a reader I suspect he will suddenly find female protagonists much much more interesting. :)



    3. Thanks for the review. John, I’m super impressed that you gave the book a try and your review was quite discriminating!


    4. So glad you’re training him to take a chance on female protagonists. Most men won’t (though women will read a book/watch a movie with male protagonists, of course). Will pass on to my 11 year old girl!

      (who wrote a fabulous review for her school paper of NO PASSENGERS BEYOND THIS POINT by Gennifer Choldenko – will share if you’re interested. Great book for this age range, too.)


    5. Pingback: Author Guest Post: Michael Beil, Author of The Red Blazer Girls Series | Jenn's Bookshelves

    6. Jennifer, I too was somewhat skeptical about what you were asking John to review. I believe that boys have missed out on some good characters in books that girls grew up with …and it’s appropriate that they can enjoy a female lead. In John’s thinking the gender wasn’t the prominent thought – it was the storyline. I like that he can enjoy the first two books on CD as well….It changes the summer pace and perhaps will motivate him to read as well. Justin might enjoy listening as well! Keep up the good works, both of you. John, I never tire of listening to your comments. Mama Judy



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