The Search for Baby Ruby
A Middle Grade Mystery by Susan Shreve
Review: 12-year-old Jess O'Fines is looking forward to wearing her new dress to the reception being held for her older sister Whee, who was marrying Victor Treat. But when her married older brother Danny enters her hotel room to say that the babysitter he hired to look after his toddler daughter Baby Ruby never showed, he pleads with Jess to look after her instead. Jess is devastated, but as the youngest of the children, and the only one still living at home with their mother, she has no choice, in The Search for Baby Ruby, a middle-grade mystery by Susan Shreve.
Jess suspects that Danny actually forgot, or maybe never intended to, call a babysitter, and resents being left out of the festivities being held in the ballroom of the hotel. After everyone leaves, she decides to make do with the best of a bad situation, and play with Baby Ruby. Hearing an odd noise in the hall, she opens the door and sees a man standing there. Closing it quickly, she retreats to the safety of the hotel room. But soon she's bored. Seeing her sister's Whee's wedding dress, she decides to try it on. And maybe use some of Whee's make-up in the bathroom. Thirty minutes later, fully dressed and made-up, she exits the bathroom to see that Baby Ruby has vanished. In a panic, she texts her sister closest in age to her, Teddy, telling her what happened and to please come back to the room. Teddy rushes up, and the two girls decide to take on the roles of amateur sleuths, solving the crime, just like they did when they were younger. Except in the past it was made-up crimes; this one is real.
The premise of this mystery is so flawed it's hard to know where to start. A child has been kidnapped, and a 12-year-old and her delinquent older teen sister are going to track down who took her? No, the first thing they should do is call the police. Or least get an adult involved. Fortunately, the sisters' questions of the hotel staff alert them that a child is missing, and they get the authorities involved. Fair enough. But Jess and Teddy still think they can find Baby Ruby, so head out on their own. And if the plot weren't so completely unbelievable already, Jess herself is kidnapped, is later left by the side of a road, and in the end contributes absolutely nothing to helping find Baby Ruby and returning her to her family. So what was the point of the amateur sleuths solving the crime setup? Maybe the purpose of the story is to illustrate that families, even dysfunctional ones like Jess's, come together in times of crisis, but there has to be a better way of getting this point across in a mystery, especially in one intended for middle grade readers.
The publisher recommends this book for readers aged 10 to 14, grades 5 through 9. Its Lexile measure is 780L.
Acknowledgment: Scholastic provided an ARC of The Search for Baby Ruby for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Search for Baby Ruby: Los Angeles, California
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The Search for Baby Ruby by Susan Shreve — A Middle Grade Mystery
Publication Date: May 2015
List Price: $16.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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