Jill Santopolo's The Nina, the Pinta, and the Vanishing Treasure kicks off an entertaining mystery series featuring Alec Flint, Super Sleuth. With his favorite sweatshirt that sports a convenient pouch and detective pens that will write even when held upside down, the adventurous fourth-grader may only be a super sleuth-in-training, but he's ready to tackle his first case when the local museum's Christopher Columbus exhibit, once full of gold coins, goes missing. His classmate, Gina, a whiz with codes, presents a mystery of her own: Ms. Blume, their art teacher, has also disappeared. Alec takes on Gina as his partner, and the pair succeeds in researching Columbus' voyages, snooping into the affairs of Ms. Blume and her acquaintances (to the chagrin of Alec's police officer father), and writing and cracking codes along the way. The twosome's sleuthing not only aids in the recovery and validation of the exhibit and the rescue of their likable teacher, it also highlights the controversies surrounding Columbus' discoveries and his treatment of Native Americans. Children will take interest in both Alec's detective work and learning more about the prominent yet often misunderstood figure from history. Copyright 2008 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Spring
Alec's class is studying Christopher Columbus. An exhibit at the local museum would help, but it, and Alec's art teacher, have gone missing. Following in his police officer father's footsteps, Alec and his partner Gina are on the case. Smartly combining a crime drama with some American history, this book succeeds in being both entertaining and informative. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2008 June #1
A mystery at the museum is the perfect case for an aspiring fourth-grade detective. Early one morning before school, Alec gets to go with his father, Officer Flint, to the American History Museum, where somebody has made off with the entire cache of gold coins in the Christopher Columbus exhibit. Curator Dr. Glumsfeld gives Alec an uneasy feeling, but this doesn't prevent him from trying to crack the case. His neighbor, Emily Berg, has no interest in detection, but the new girl at school, Gina Rossi, shares Alec's passion for puzzles, and becomes his sidekick. The pair even begins passing coded messages, a puzzle-solving bonus for the reader (with solutions at the back of the book). Santopolo's prose crackles, and she manages to weave in a fair degree of historical information on Columbus as she spins her yarn (and supplements it with a lengthy Author's Note). The first in what promises to be a solid middle-grade series in the tradition of Encyclopedia Brown. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2008 October
Alec is a fourth grader whose father is a police officer. Because his mother is often away on business, father and son spend time together working on his father?s cases. For this reason, Alec views himself as a ?super sleuth.? When the museum?s Christopher Columbus exhibit is stolen, Alec methodically collects clues to help his father solve the crime. Alec and his classmate Gina do research about what types of things might have (or might not have) been available in Columbus? time. The duo discovers that there are two mysteries to solve when their art teacher mysteriously disappears. Alec and Gina put the clues they find together to solve both mysteries, bringing the story to a satisfying, though predictable, conclusion. Told from Alec?s point of view, the story and words feel genuine to a fourth grader. This first novel by Jill Santopolo will be perfect for readers who have moved beyond Cam Jansen, but are not quite ready for Encyclopedia Brown. Light and fluffy, this will be great fun reading. Recommended. Stephanie Bange, Children?s Librarian, Wilmington-Stroop Branch, Dayton (Ohio) Metro Library ¬ 2006 Linworth Publishing, Inc.