Dear Book Lovers,

The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Missing Watch by Miriam Jones Bradley–this mystery for middle graders is terrific leisure reading and perfect for the summer. In the book several cousins, ranging in ages from eight to thirteen, spend some of their summer at their grandparents’ ranch. The kids solve a mystery about the disappearance of a family member several generations back and help a kind, but troubled stranger rediscover forgiveness.

The families in the story are Christians. They talk the talk and walk and the walk. Carly’s father, a minister, is a catalyst for one of the mysteries. With Grandpa’s permission, Carly’s father brings Slim, a homeless man, to the ranch to help with the haying. The kids wonder if they should trust the stranger and make some mistakes in the way they treat him. They learn some valuable lessons in respect and responsibility to others. The grandparents provide loving and godly guidance. The kids and grandparents also share their faith with one another and with others. One unusual, but satisfying, element of the story is the kids’ belief that God has been at work behind the scenes in bringing about the solution to the mystery and the restoration of the stranger to his family.

The setting is a working ranch and the kids do chores as well as play so the book has some good detail on ranch life. (I always think it is a plus when a reader can learn a few interesting facts as well as be entertained.) One scene in which two of the kids are doing a task they find unpleasant has some nice modeling. The ranch setting also provides the plot with some humorous happenings—egg gathering, for example–and a little danger—a rattlesnake.

I could see the ending coming from way off, but then the author threw a twist. It reminded me, like it reminds the kids in the story, not to jump too quickly to conclusions and that one should practice mystery-solving with wisdom and grace. The book is a warm fuzzy. Wine Press is the publisher. The book is available from them and on Amazon.com.

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