Randi Rhodes Ninja Detective: The Sweetest Heist in History

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Randi Rhodes Ninja Detective: The Sweetest Heist in History Book Poster Image
Action-packed sequel has more mystery and depth.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Facts about the famed Fabergé eggs, including their history and enchanting features. There are hands-on activities at the end of the book that cover various detective and ninja skills including going incognito, disappearing in the dark, creating sugar flowers, and sending secret messages through eggs.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about the importance of allowing kids to explore boundaries and having adults in your life you can trust. Different kids explore their personal boundaries, which leads each one to learn important lessons.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Fathers and father figures show sensitivity and understanding to the children in their charge. The kids learn to define their expectations and limitations, overcome adversity, and handle bullies.

Violence & Scariness

There's mild violence and the threat of violence. Tae kwon do moves are used against bad guys or in tournaments. Some pretty imposing bad guys menace children and adults around them.

Language

Mild name-calling and bullying, including "sissy," "Yankee," and "brats."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Randi Rhodes Ninja Detective: The Sweetest Heist in History is the second in a mystery series by author-actor Octavia Spencer. This time, Randi and her two fellow ninja detectives visit New York City and get mixed up with Russian mobsters and a case involving priceless Fabergé eggs. There's mild bad-guy violence, but the children featured are never in much danger. There's also mild name-calling by kids who are bullies, including "sissy" and "Yankee" (used in a derogatory manner by a Southern child).

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What's the story?

A trip to New York City puts kid detective Randi Rhodes and her best friends, Pudge Taylor and D.C., back in the heart of a mystery worthy of their detective skills. Pudge is free of the strict boundaries of his military dad, D.C. is searching for his father, and Randi is with her carefree aunt, who knows the value of a good adventure -- over the protests of Randi's dad. When mysterious neighbors move in, the ninja detectives' attention turns to the strangers' dealings and their interest in the new, priceless Fabergé egg exhibition right across the street. Can the ninja detectives crack a big-city case?

Is it any good?

In RANDI RHODES, NINJA DETECTIVE: THE SWEETEST HEIST IN HISTORY, author Octavia Spencer delivers. The diverse characters we came to love in the first Randi Rhodes book return, and readers get to learn more about them and understand what makes them tick. The mystery is ramped up as the kids head to New York City and find themselves entangled with Russian mobsters, yet there's less violence and perceived danger to the kids than in the first book.

Spencer certainly doesn't hold back in terms of mystery and character development. Numerous plot twists will keep readers on the edges of their seats and struggling to figure out the mystery. And there are several touching moments when Spencer's attention to detail brings just the right level of emotion and vulnerability to her characters -- which helps them become real people to readers. Spencer's second visit to Randi Rhodes' world is believable, fun, and a big improvement over the first.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about exploring boundaries. Why was it important for Pudge and Randi to have a "free pass" during their weekend in New York? What did they learn about themselves?

  • Families also can talk about the temptation of fame and how kid stars are treated in the media. In the book, Randi turns down a chance to be famous; was this a good idea? What do you think it's like to be famous?

  • Which activities, in addition to the ones in the book, can help you develop your ninja detective skills? If you could add an activity to the book, what would it be? Why?

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