Middle grade readers will adore “The Curious Cat Spy Club” series by Linda Joy Singleton. It’s a series about three middle school kids, two girls and a boy, who get together in the first book to rescue three kittens they accidentally find abandoned in a plastic bag in a dumpster. These three kids happen to be especially talented, each in a different way, and each of their talents is needed in order to solve the mystery of who abandoned the kittens, and where they came from.
Kelsey Case has been a spy in training for practically her whole life. Ever since she read “Matilda the Spy,” she’s been practicing picking locks, reading lips, and keeping secrets. She narrates the mysteries, and is a bit jealous of the Sparklers, a group of four best friends who dominate the school social scene. Becca Morales is one of the Sparklers, and she has a pink streak in her black hair, and her signature look is clothing with animal prints. Her mother runs an animal sanctuary, and she is grateful when Kelsey helps her capture her zorse, a horse/zebra named Zed, who escaped while she was taking him to the veterinarian. Leo, the third member of their group, is a brilliant but totally socially awkward boy who, because of his lack of social skills lacks friends. He’s thrilled that Kelsey and Becca will hang out with him.
The three rescue the kittens, hide them in a shed on the sanctuary property, and decide to start the club. That’s when they notice that there appear to be an unusual number of missing animals in their town. The group joins forces to solve the mystery, with each using his or her own skill to help uncover the truth.
In the second book, “The Mystery of the Zorse’s Mask,” the trio continues to work on solving mysteries. This one involved Becca’s beloved Zed. When someone claiming to be his owner wants to take Zed, suspicions flare. It takes all three of the kids, and some very dangerous actions by Kelsey, to uncover the truth and save the zorse in the end.
The third book is “Kelsey the Spy” and in it Kelsey loses her special notebook, the one where she records all the secrets she keeps. She is worried that if it falls into the wrong hands, all the secrets she has not shared will be exposed and hurt her friends and others. At the same time, the trio of friends works to help an 130-year-old tortoise.
Each book in the series is beautifully written with fabulous characters, authentic dialogue and lots of animals being helped. The messages are extremely appropriate for middle grade readers, the characters each are great role models, and it will make readers long for their own cat, dog, and maybe even a zorse. Because each book ends with a clue about the mystery to be found in the next book, kids will want to read them all one after another. They’d be a fabulous addition to any classroom or school library.
There are five books in the series, and while each book could stand on its own, it’s much more fun to start at the beginning. The books are available individually or get the first three in a boxed set.
Please note: This review is based on the final, paperback books provided by the publisher, Albert Whitman & Company, for review purposes.