Jones & Parker Case Files written by Bob Hoose and Christopher P. N. Maselli, interior illustrations by Gary Locke and published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2015) will sharpen and delight the minds of your pre-teen. And it could be just the thing to help a young mind do a few warm ups for the rigors of the coming school year.

The book contains sixteen short mysteries averaging about six pages long with solutions the reader can find on later pages in the book. Emily Jones and Matthew Parker, two pre-teens, have a detective agency. Friendly, helpful, smart and even funny, these young detectives solve the kind of mysteries that almost any kid could be involved in solving—no murders, no bank robberies. There are a couple of who-dunnit thefts and a couple of who-dunnit pranks.

Most of the mysteries Jones & Parker solve are really brain teasers. The kids solve them, but with good listening skills, keen observations, and logic. A few of the cases do require special knowledge to solve, but it doesn’t seem unrealistic that inquisitive kids like Jones and Parker would possess such information. I think such cases encourage readers to be open to learning interesting new knowledge. Cases include a sealed safe, a missing dog, ice cream that doesn’t freeze, ants in an ant farm that die.

The mysteries were originally published in Focus on the Family Clubhouse, a magazine for children eight- to twelve-years-old. Each case’s solution page also has a Bible verse called “Bible Evidence” that pertains to that case. For example, in the case where Emily and Matthew help a bully solve his difficulties with his math homework, the verse is, “Be kind and compassionate to one another,” Ephesians 4:32.

I think this is a book your child might want to share with you, see if you can solve the case. Even if you can’t, don’t worry, the two of you will have fun trying.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.