The Mystery of the Stolen Painting: Fran Orenstein
Danny West has a reading disability making it difficult for him to read aloud in class or anywhere else. Sometimes educators are sensitive to the needs of students and other times they just follow what they think is the best course of action for everyone. Danny ‘s woes never ended as Mrs. Gerard called on him to read and the other students made fun of him for his stuttering and lack of ability to read fluently. Somewhere on his IEP the modification was lost and the paper that was supposed to say not to make him read aloud in class was not placed in his file. So, poor Danny had to compensate in other areas. Thinking he was not smart, feeling dejected at times he needed someone to boost his ego and help him through the hard times. Lucky for him he has a friend like Amy Crowe. Mysteries happen and at the key to this one is the death of his father ten years before when he was just an infant. Imagine being a cop, a detective, realizing that something was not quite right outside an art gallery, calling for backup and being stomped over by an art thief and winding up dead. The thief stole a value painting from the gallery but in the heat of the moment, rode off on his motorcycle and wound up dead. So, investigators never found out much about this man. The papers never linked it to someone living in his hometown at present and mystery unfolds that will take readers inside the house of a teacher close to Danny, taking tours of the desert, trying to escape two kids that bullied him and learning the truth behind his father’s death. Only author Fran Orenstein can deliver a multi-level plot with interesting twists and surprises that even the characters will enjoy taking part in as we learn the truth behind The Mystery of the Stolen Painting.
Enter our favorite mystery young man named Huby like Ruby who knows more than you think, can help both Amy and Danny out of difficult situations and who appears and disappears at a whim. Danny is having trouble with two boys at school: JoJo and Luke who enjoy tormenting him and other kids making it hard for him to get home after school without having to take a route through the desert. But, Danny is smart but not smart enough at times to escape their wrath but with the help of Huby and Amy he just might learn a secret about Jojo that will change it all.
Danny is great in art and his teacher, Mr. Lewis, no relation to this reviewer, recognizes his talent and offers to tutor him in art on his own time. Here is where things get really interesting for everyone as Danny and Amy go to his house, which by the way is more like a mansion, wander around it, wonder how he can afford to live like a king, and find that their just might be a link to his father’s death right under his nose. As they begin to do some research and learn more about Mr. Benjamin Lewis they learn that his middle name is Avery and that he just might be A. Lewis a famous artist but why wouldn’t he want anyone to know that he is a great artist and famous? Enter in Grandpa West, Danny’s mother and Amy’s parents who are all quite astute and smart in their own special way. Amy’s father enjoys archeological digs and is going to take Danny along on his next one. Her mother is a psychologist, and Danny’s mother is a social worker with a grandfather a storeowner.
Agreeing to take art lessons from his teacher he mentions it to his mother and then to his Uncle Rafe a police detective who does some inside investigating on his teacher making sure he is truly a good guy. Not knowing that Mr. Lewis and his grandfather are friends and that he knows more about him that he is letting on. But, during one of his art lessons with the help of our invisible/Visible, Huby, Amy snoops around the house while Danny is taking an art lesson and you would not believe what she uncovers within the walls of one of the rooms.
What happens when Mr. Lewis decides to ask his mother out on a date? Just what does Danny do? Why is he so upset and what happens when everyone learns about their investigative skills? Added in Danny and his sister Sarah never got along so why does Huby say that will change when she goes to college? Just how does he help these children realize that family counts, understanding others and being more tolerant is important and never jump to the wrong conclusions. Added in we learn more about Danny’s learning disability and why he finally asks for help added in the truth behind why JoJo so mean, what his mother reveals to both Amy and Danny and how you never really know a person until you give them a second chance.
There are many ways educators can use this book to help children deal with bullying, understanding others, working with students with learning disabilities, sensitivity training and understanding that not everyone finds everything easy in school and as teachers we need to make allowances for individual differences and meet the needs of every student.
As you get to know both Danny and Amy some of the banter between them is hilarious as they get on each other’s nerves, tease each other and of course are true friends. With their parents behind them one hundred percent, a special invisible/visible guy named Huby who is almost likes a guidance counselor, conscience, confider and much more you have to love these kids and of course Huby. Huby is the stabilizer in this book and in The Mystery of the Green Goblin where author Fran Orenstein introduces this amazing, smart and colorful character that everyone especially adults will love because we can all use a Huby in our lives. So, is Mr. Lewis a famous artist? Did he have anything to do with the death of Danny’s father? What did Amy find when she sent snooping around? How does Mr. Lewis react and what about his relationship with Danny’s mother? You won’t get those answers from me but you will if you read this outstanding Five Star Book. Once again author Fran Orenstein raises the bar in YA novels and this one is for children of every age. Meet Huby: Let’s hope she brings him back again to help other kids understand each other become good friends.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine