Sunday, May 9, 2004

The Creek

Holm, Jennifer L. 2003. THE CREEK. New York: HarperCollins Juvenile Books. ISBN 0060001348 [Suggested Grade Levels: 8 and up].

Penny, the 12, almost 13-year-old female protagonist in this story, has grown up playing with the boys in her neighborhood. Summer days are filled with building forts in the woods at the end of their block, participating in 4th of July celebrations, and enjoying weekly trips to the dairy for ice cream, courtesy of the neighborhood “grandpa,” Mr. Schuyler. This summer, starting predictably like all others, takes a strange turn when Caleb Devlin, returns amidst rumors of the horrible things from his past that caused him to be sent away to a juvenile detention facility for several years. With Caleb’s arrival, disturbing things, similar to his crimes of the past, began again. Penny and her friends set out to investigate the things that are happening, convinced that it is Caleb who is committing the acts of violence that culminate in a young girl’s death. However, things are not as they seem, and while Caleb is indeed a shady character, the truth of who is terrorizing the town is not realized until it is almost too late for Penny.

This is definitely a mystery that pushes well beyond the typical plot found within stories where the child plays the detective. The storyline is well plotted, keeping readers on the edge of their seats as unexpected turns are made throughout the story. The level of suspense continues to heighten as the actions of the characters increase in intensity, leading to the culmination of a frightening situation that may or may not turn out well for the characters involved. As the main character, Penny, is dragged into the mysterious actions taken place around her, and as life as she knows it changes drastically, she undergoes her own struggles and must overcome the obstacles before her if she is to survive.


Learn about the elements needed in creating a well-written mystery story.
Investigate forensic science and how evidence is collected and processed to solve mysteries.
Learn about famous detectives, real and fictional, and compare their characteristics.

Other mystery books:
Cormier, Robert. THE RAG AND BONE SHOP. ISBN 0440229715.
Nickerson, Sara. HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY AND NEVER BE FOUND. Illustrated by Sally Worn Comport. ISBN 0064410277.

Other books by Jennifer L. Holmes that could be compared to this one:

By Kirsten Murphy

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