Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Spaghetti Detectives

The Spaghetti Detectives

Fall 2011 Fiction
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Andreas Steinhöfel
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-0-545-28975-7
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Rico Doretti, Andreas Steinhofel's charming protagonist, is a proddity. Somewhere between a progidy and an oddity, Rico and his mother decide this word best describes the unconventional way his mind works. They certainly prefer it to the dreadful, "learning disability."

Rico can't manage directions, he has strange urges to enter other people's apartments, and emotions and details sometimes confuse him. Yet he manages a solo cross-town trip to follow a lead, fends for himself for days while his mother attends to her dying brother, and cracks the summer's biggest mystery.

Rico's curiosity over a stray piece of spaghetti on the sidewalk lands him a sidekick in the helmet-wearing true prodigy Oscar. They form a sweet but oddball friendship and when Oscar disappears it's up to Rico to find him and in doing so catch the serial kidnapper known as "Mr. 2000."

Rico's is not an ordinary childhood. The quirky residents in his Berlin apartment building are a motley mix of manic-depressives and alcoholics. His mother works nights at a club leaving him to watch romantic comedies with Mrs. Darling, who still pines for the husband who left her. His interactions with people are slightly weird, but dryly comical.

Overall, the narration is eccentric and engaging, like Rico, and the central mystery unfolds in a suspenseful and entertaining way.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2011 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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