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Mystery on Magnolia Circle

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Rear Window meets Nancy Drew in this middle-grade novel by Kate Klise about a girl who believes she has witnessed a crime

What happens when two best friends take on the world’s worst summer?

On the first day of vacation, ten-year-old Ivy Crowden falls down the stairs and breaks her leg. Stuck in a plaster cast, she’s certain her summer is doomed. Not even Teddy, her neighbor and best friend, can cheer her up because he’s dealing with his own pain: the loss of a beloved dog.

But when Ivy witnesses a possible burglary from her living room window, her summer takes a sudden turn from meh to mysterious. Who are the criminals? Might a classmate be involved? And . . . uh-oh. A second mystery is nipping at Ivy’s heels. Cue the best friends, the best dog, and the best chance that summer can be saved!

208 pages, Hardcover

Published August 3, 2021

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About the author

Kate Klise

44 books323 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads data base.

Catherine "Kate" Klise is an American author of children's literature. Many of her books are illustrated by her sister, M. Sarah Klise. Their popular Regarding series is presented in a scrapbook style format, with letters, journal entries, and related ephemera telling the story. She is also known for her picture books as well as the bestselling 43 Old Cemetery Road series. Kate Klise's first adult novel, In the Bag, was released in 2012.

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5 stars
69 (23%)
4 stars
134 (45%)
3 stars
76 (25%)
2 stars
16 (5%)
1 star
2 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews
Profile Image for Darla.
3,147 reviews447 followers
April 26, 2022
This early middle-grade mystery shines the spotlight on St. Louis. Ivy is our narrator and is stuck in a leg cast for the summer. Her best friend Teddy (please call me Ted) lives across the street. Having a heavy cast on her leg causes Ivy to spend more time looking out the window. And one day she sees something that may be connected to a crime. As the summer moves along, there will be yet another mystery to solve. Ivy and Ted sometimes color outside the lines in their methods, but are corrected and deal with the consequences. Love the local history bits thrown in, especially about the beloved Scott Joplin, and the local landmarks mentioned. Dogs Winthrop and Lotty are a wonderful addition to the story as well. Includes Ivy's "What I learned from that" observations at the end of each chapter. Loved it!

Profile Image for Eileen.
1,821 reviews70 followers
July 19, 2021
5 stars

This was an absolutely delightful book about a girl who breaks her leg and has to spend her summer in a cast. She and her best friend live on a cul-de-sac with their dogs and she was looking forward to a summer hanging out and playing. But between her cast and his sick dog, she is not looking forward to summer. Her mom (a psychiatrist) and her doctor encourages her to discover a new hobby and she slowly becomes involved in solving a mystery in her neighborhood. Each chapter ends with a lesson that she has learned and helps solidify the chapter in the minds of readers. The illustrations are really cute and I just enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I highly recommend this book for those who love mysteries, dogs, adventures, and middle school books. I would love to read another book by this author and can think of several of my students who would enjoy this as well.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Profile Image for Nadine Keels.
Author 38 books167 followers
September 27, 2021
"I think you'll be surprised by the insights you can gain during difficult times."

Ivy is bummed out when she breaks her leg, and her best friend Teddy has his own trouble to deal with when the veterinarian tells him his dog is severely ill. It looks like both kids are in for a terrible summer, but their vacation takes a turn at the rise of a mysterious crime wave and another puzzle they endeavor to solve in Mystery on Magnolia Circle by author Kate Klise, illustrated by Celia Krampien.

Well! I'd say this fun double-mystery with good helpings of heart is just right for middle grade readers graduating from chapter books.

Granted, even with Ivy's dry humor, I didn't warm up to her right away. What she calls being grumpy I call being sarcastic and rude to people who are trying to help her. But when she isn't having an attitude, she's actually a caring girl, and she learns some great stuff over the summer.

This story addresses serious issues like grief, mental illness, drugs, rehabilitation, and homelessness in a way that's real but not too complicated or heavy. The young friendships are touching, and the read has its most shining and surprising moments as events come to a head in the last phases.

Definitely an adventure worth checking out.
106 reviews
January 23, 2023
This is a Sunshine State Young Readers Award nominee this school year for grades 3-5. It’s a cute book with a little mystery and a plot twist. I enjoyed it, but it was definitely more juvenile compared other nominees from previous years. However, the characters were likable & the plot was good.
Profile Image for Gloria.
429 reviews
January 28, 2023
Lovely middle-grade novel about friendship, solving mysteries, and turning it around.
Profile Image for Carrie.
2,114 reviews43 followers
May 27, 2022
A feel good mystery about two friends that make the best of a summer where one of them has to be in a cast.

A note about the dog for people who are wary about a book with dog death,
Profile Image for Maria Antonia.
324 reviews3 followers
December 23, 2021
Opening lines from the book …
On the last day of school, I fell down the front steps of my house and broke my leg. After the surgery, my doctor said I’d have to wear a cast on my leg for most of the summer. “You might think your world will get smaller,” Dr. Ames said. “But depending on how you spend this time, your world could actually get bigger.”

1) I didn’t realize this when I read the book, but after reading the author’s note, I discovered that this book was meant to be a kid-friendly version of the Hitchcock movie: Rear Window. I totally see that now that I’ve read the book. (I happen to really like that movie!) It’s not exactly the same, but the basic premise is there.

2) The main character is Ivy. I love her little “What I learned from that” at the end of each chapter.

3) And then there’s Teddy. I love how he pushes Ivy to do things, well, to make the story more exciting. And he keeps wanted to be called “Ted,” which I totally get. I like how that works its way into the story.

4) The mystery about the boy in van… I was intrigued. And it didn’t turn out quite how I expected. But I won’t give away any spoilers.

5) And finally, there’s the Scott Joplin house connection. I also happen to really like Scott Joplin’s music (rag), and this book made me want to visit his house! Anyway, I enjoyed the little tour and the facts the two kids learn about the composer.

1) I almost wished there was more of a Rear Window vibe to the whole story. Like she’s stuck in her house with a view of the whole neighborhood, and she has to send Teddy out … But maybe that wouldn’t quite work…

A fun mystery that’s based on a good movie … I would definitely recommend this book to mystery-lovers. And if you happen to like Scott Joplin’s rag music, you might be intrigued by that part of the story.
Profile Image for Sydney Scarlett.
89 reviews
July 28, 2022
Ivy has a broken leg, and thinks that her summer is over. She soon learns that her world doesn’t have to be smaller on crutches. Her friendship with Teddy, her love of her dog Winthrop, and her aptitude for observing the world around her allow her to solve multiple mysteries on Magnolia Avenue. While the plot was straightforward, the storylines of Lotty and Melvin were not realistic at all.

Ivy is sarcastic and emotional and funny, and Teddy was one of the cutest characters in the whole book: melodramatic, thoughtful, and always jumping to conclusions. I wish we’d gotten more of old Mr. Hobart down the street. The newspaper articles were a cute way to tie in the community news from an objective perspective, and to focus on the facts.

Many books about troubled youth tend to lean on teachers and librarians, who do care for and support their students, but the onus shouldn’t be on teachers to become the adoptive parents or foster parents for their students. This trope may give students unrealistic expectations for their educators and doesn’t designate healthy boundaries: we see some of these expectations in ‘Carry Me Home,’ and ‘Counting by Sevens’ as well. Other than these few things, this was an adorable and easy read which I’d recommend for younger grades.
Profile Image for Mela.
257 reviews26 followers
October 10, 2021
this book was boring and annoying. the characters are flat and the mystery is dull. the premise is like so many kid's mystery books, girl has summer to have great adventures, but alas, a broken leg keeps her whining about missing most of the fun. hello ablism? another classmate's struggles, staying at a homeless shelter while parent is in rehab, is completely glossed over, for what? ticking off some inclusion boxes? and then to top it off, the veternarian didn't call the family when the dog she was supposed to euthanise escaped? ? also the best friend is drawn with darker skin in the illustrations but nothing in the book codes him as a person of color. each chapter ends with the protagonist recording "what i learned from that." they start off cute ("best friends know exactly where you keep your cards.") and apt for a fifth grader but quickly become cliche and dull ("great minds think alike.") what is the deal here. with thirty books to her name this author must running out of ideas? take a break and let some fresh voices take the scene.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Hillary Scholz.
180 reviews
June 10, 2021
This was a cute mystery that took some turns that I wasn't expecting.

3.5 stars

Ivy breaks her leg at the beginning of the summer and she can't do any of the typical summer things. So while she's stuck at home, watching through the window, she thinks she witnesses a crime. She calls her best friend, Teddy, over to try and figure out what's going on in the neighborhood.

There were a lot of things I liked in this book. One in particular is that at the end of every chapter, Ivy says what she learned from what just happened. One of my favorites was "I'm not the only person who acts mad when they feel sad". It's a good book about friendship, caring, and getting all of the information before jumping to conclusions. Teddy and Ivy's friendship was wonderful to witness. They both love and support each other.

"Even with a broken leg, life could still be big and fun and wonderful, as long as you had a best friend and a best dog."
Profile Image for Lisa.
2,113 reviews13 followers
September 10, 2021
When 10yo Ivy breaks her leg on the first day of summer vacation, she's sure this will be the worst summer ever. But when she witnesses what might be a burglary in her neighborhood, Ivy becomes an amateur detective. With the help of her best friend Teddy - who is dealing with his own trauma, Ivy's boring summer might just turn into a crime solving, friend saving miracle summer.

Mystery on Magnolia Circle is a fun summer read, but also contains themes of homelessness, mental illness, friendship and grief. At the end of every chapter, Ivy responds with "what she learned" which was my favorite part. The seemingly heavy topics are addressed age appropriately and don't bring down the story. I really liked it, it will appeal to both boys and girls.

Cross posted to http://kissthebookjr.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Libby.
917 reviews19 followers
May 3, 2021
A solid mystery for chapter book readers transitioning to MG novels. The two main characters are going into 5th grade and like most kids of that age seem to fluctuate between acting younger than their age and moments of maturity. I was a bit disappointed that although Ivy and Teddy are directly responsible for solving a rash of robberies, the action of capturing the criminals and helping their friend takes place off-stage and is only described briefly after the fact. The second mystery, about Teddy's dog Lotty, is settled much more satisfactorily. While not an essential purchase for a library, this is still a good choice for young mystery fans.
Review based on an ARC received through NetGalley.
June 8, 2021
Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read an ARC version of this book. I chose to read this book as I am a 3rd grade teacher and teach a mystery reading unit each year. I am always looking for engaging mysteries that will hook my readers.

The tagline for this book was Nancy Drew meets Rear Window, which are both favorites of mine so I was excited to start. This story follows a girl , Ivy, who breaks her foot and has to spend the summer with a cast on her foot in crutches. She has a best friend Teddy, who is a great character with traits of a good friend, spends the summer hanging out with her while she's stuck in the house.

There were several things I loved about this book. Ivy's doctor tells her to take time to learn important things while she's slowing down, so at the end of each chapter, Ivy has a thought that she jots down that she learns as her adventures unfold. I love this social emotional piece for students to see the value of journaling, mindfulness, self growth, and learning from mistakes. There are several mysteries that unfold through the book, with a plot twist at the end. The author also mentions what a "red herring" is within the book which is a skill I teach my students about the mystery genre. At the end of the book Ivy decides to "give back" and I like students to be able to see that self growth in a character.

This is a delightful little gem I will be purchasing for my own classroom library.
Profile Image for Murray.
1,044 reviews18 followers
February 24, 2022
Ivy breaks her leg just as summer vacation is about to start and she must give up on her summer plans until she and her best friend Teddy try to solve the mystery of a burglary that happened in Teddy's apartment building and how a classmate might be involved somehow. Also, there is a second mystery of Ivy spying what look's like Teddy's dog that was put down by the vet a few weeks before. As an adult reader I figured out the burglary mystery immediately, but 2nd t0 4th grade readers, who this book is aimed at, may not. Also, there were a couple of suspension of disbelief errors , that were hard to swallow because Klise grounded this book with a certain level of contemporary realism. An older, middle grade reader might find this mystery disappointing.
Profile Image for Nancy.
778 reviews
September 17, 2022
A quick-read mystery set in my hometown, St Louis, Missouri. I love any story story set in my city. It's fun to fully imagine the setting. I recognized the Rear Window nod the author mentioned in her notes in the end pages. Several plots kept me turning pages as I read this in one sitting. As an adult reading about the harrowing adventures these 12ish year-olds undertook without adult supervision or knowledge of any kind had me finding it difficult to suspend disbelief. But as a child around this age reading this, would it be easier or harder to believe they could pull these exploits off as successfully as this book proposes? Several themes: homelessness, neighborhood responsibility, kindness, hopefulness, making the best of a bad situation and independence.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,574 reviews
June 9, 2021
Ivy is stuck in a car all summer and she’s bummed. Her best friend Teddy is there to help her make the most of the summer, including solving some mysteries. There is a lot of interaction with Ivy’s parents, neighbors, and friends. At the end of each chapter Ivy tells us what she’s learned. There are small illustrations to accompany these. There seems to be a lot of freedom given to two 10 year olds, but I think it works for the adventure part of the book. There are some serious topics but for the most part it’s a light-hearted read. This was a fun, fast-paced chapter book. I think the subject matter and the text would make this good for 3rd-5th grade. (Read a digital ARC via Netgalley.)
Profile Image for Amanda Brooke.
892 reviews5 followers
March 19, 2022
I don't like that this is in the middle grade category. I really think that a strong reader in first or second grade could read this - the reading level is 4th, but the content is suitable. I love books by Kate Klise, she really seems to know how to get into a kid's head. I thought it was interesting that this was really two mysteries with a cheerful ending. The story was inventive, but needed a map. There is something so enchanting about books with maps. So much of this book depended on the cul-de-sac where it took place, but included some travel to a park, Scott Joplin's home, and even the school and a homeless shelter. It was a fun read.
Profile Image for Emily Masters.
333 reviews10 followers
September 17, 2021
this sweet little 3rd grade mystery was clearly inspired by Rear Window. i really enjoyed it and felt like it was a great introduction to the genre. it had lots of little twists and turns and really packed a lot of story into such a short book. the only thing that bothered me was that the MC's best friend is a POC on the cover and in the illustrations, but as far as i can remember that was never mentioned in any way in the book itself. so thanks to the illustrator there was a POC, but otherwise that was unclear.
Profile Image for Anne.
4,351 reviews41 followers
November 30, 2021
Ivy is a ten-year-old who is looking forward to a summer full of adventures with her best friend Teddy who lives across the street. But her plans are dampened when she trips and breaks her leg, ending up in a cast for the entire summer. Ivy spots some suspicious behavior out of her window one day though and when there is a burglary in the neighborhood soon after, she and Teddy are on the case! Throw in some cute dogs and a touching story about a classmate and you have a classic mystery. A bit predictable but perfectly suitable for 3rd to 5th grade students.
Profile Image for Randi Penner.
37 reviews3 followers
June 11, 2022
I honestly went through a journey with this book. I almost put it away in the beginning, but I am so glad I kept going. I love how this book handled many situations and loved the “what I learned” piece at the end of every chapter. Throw in all the dogs, and I think this is a book my kids are going to lover.
Not to mention the FULL BODY GOOSEBUMPS when I read:
“It’s the word everyone who runs away wants to hear.”
“Wanted?” I said.
“You’re wanted,” Melvin explained. “Please come home.”
Gah! - that line is perfection. I think I’m going to have to start our year with this as a read aloud ♥️
Profile Image for Eileen Winfrey.
944 reviews5 followers
September 17, 2021
Two mysteries in one in this charming little story about Ivy and her best friend Teddy who serendipitously end up as a detective agency after Ivy breaks her leg on the last day of school before summer vacation. All the sitting around begets some interesting observations and the two begin investigating the summer crime wave that started on their very own street: Magnolia Circle. Charming, accessible, perfect for your 3-5th grader.
Profile Image for Debbie Tanner.
2,050 reviews15 followers
August 2, 2022
This is a nice story about Ivy, who breaks her leg right at the beginning of the summer vacation. She's sure that she won't be able to have any fun for the summer, especially when her best friend's dog dies. And then there are mysterious break-ins in their neighborhood. Ivy and Ted decide to try to figure out what's happening. There are themes of homelessness and perseverance and drawing conclusions. I think kids are going to like the mystery aspect of this story.
Profile Image for Jordan Henrichs.
285 reviews5 followers
April 29, 2022
I love the setup and hook of this book and the format is great (ending each chapter with a "What I Learned from That..." note) but couldn't help but wish there was a little more of a mystery to solve from afar. I was expected more Rear Window than Nancy Drew but Ivy is not as confined as I thought she would be. Klise treats her very middle grade reader with a lot of respect. I appreciated that.
Profile Image for Kendra.
323 reviews40 followers
October 13, 2022
In this middle-grade twist on Rear Window, Ivy (so-named because her parents met in a phlebotomy class!) is a 10-year-old amateur sleuth whose summer plans are derailed when she falls down some stairs on the first day of vacation, badly breaking her leg and leaving her homebound for the next several weeks. Ivy is joined in her misery by her best friend Teddy, who is grieving the sudden loss of his beloved dog. But the friends’ awful summer takes a surprising turn towards adventure when Ivy witnesses a potential burglary taking place at the apartment complex across the street. Ivy and Teddy chase the trail of clues to determine the culprit. And of course, no summer adventure would be complete with out some surprise revelations, new happy discoveries and a few more unfortunate heartbreaks, and the formation of some new friendships.

I adored this book! I enjoyed the mystery element, but liked the friendship and family stories even more. Ivy is a charming narrator with an upbeat personality, insatiable curiosity, and an eagerness to teach, to help, and to learn. I always appreciate kids’ books that feature strong child protagonists while also incorporating healthy, thoughtful adults into the story.

There are some wonderful themes of compassion, overcoming prejudice, and learning to make the best of a challenging situation. I admired Ivy’s mom, who doesn’t let her daughter wallow in pity, but encourages her to make the most of a bummer summer situation; it was refreshing to see this reframing and the elevation of optimism and grit when so many contemporary books emphasize victimhood. There are some difficult topics here as well, like homelessness, addiction, and grief, but these are all presented in a child-appropriate manner. This was published just last year, and there are some modern elements (such as cellphones and other technology) that orient it to the present day, but the story and overall messaging are cozily nostalgic.

Charleston and I read this together, and the “What I Learned” segments at the end of each chapter gave us much to chuckle over and discuss. We would both highly recommend this to other parents, teachers, and kids.

My Rating: 5 Stars // Charleston’s Rating: 4.5 Stars // Book Format: Print
Profile Image for Ellen.
611 reviews3 followers
October 17, 2022
Summer vacation, mystery, neighborhood issues

Ivy breaks her leg on the first day of summer vacation, and her best friend's dog gets diagnosed with Leukemia and is put to sleep. However, she witnesses something strange and helps solve a mystery crime spree, and then surprisingly finds the "dead" dog! A cute mystery with a bit of heaviness at times, but a happy ending.
Profile Image for Olivia.
41 reviews
January 18, 2023
Mystery on magnolia circle

This book is the perfect example of how to spend a boring/ fun summer! I feel bad for Teddy and Ivy until the end

“ dreaming of a fun summer!” Definitely they are! Mystery’s, fun, and BFFS! Ivy finally finds lotty! She doesn’t have the sicknesss! She has pups!

The end! ( sorry! It’s short!”

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jessica.
1,342 reviews
June 23, 2021
3.5 stars
Decent mystery story. Two mysteries that seemed pretty realistic. Lovable characters. Elementary/middle grade readers should like it. It wasn’t one of my favorites but was decent. Not much to say bc there didn’t seem to be a lot of depth to the story.
Profile Image for Roberta.
903 reviews5 followers
February 8, 2022
“Even with a broken leg, life could still be big and fun and wonderful, as long as you had a best friend and a dog.” An optimistic, cute book for kids, along the lines of Nate the Great but with more serious content.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews

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