The Real McCoys, Book 1

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
The Real McCoys, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Imaginative artwork makes fun detective story a joy to read.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Shows how observation and patience contribute to solving problems. Moxie explains the meanings of some words and phrases and humorously misunderstands idioms like "turn the other cheek," some of which are clearly explained in the end pages. A "debrief" page includes questions to assess what lessons Moxie might have learned from this episode.

Positive Messages

It's wise to keep an open mind. It's important to seek out all the facts before drawing conclusions. Accusing others of wrongdoing is very serious business and shouldn't be done recklessly. Seemingly uninteresting people can have strengths and talents you just haven't noticed yet. Having something good happen to someone you care for can be even better than getting something good yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Moxie, though impatient and sometimes shortsighted, is observant and thoughtful. She tries to be thorough but accepts it when others point out what she's missed. Moxie feels conflicted about accusing seemingly nice people of wrongdoing. She doesn't fully understand her unusual brother, but she loves him and grows more appreciative of his talents and good character. The McCoy family is warm and supportive of each other. Principal Jones is patient but firm.

Violence & Scariness

Child bumps classmate with a piñata.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Real McCoys is the first in a well-illustrated series about a precocious crime-solving fourth-grader and her quiet but clever 7-year-old brother. Husband-and-wife team author Matthew Swanson and illustrator Robbi Behr weave text and images together in imaginative fashion, bringing Moxie's vivid imagination to life. As her name suggests, Moxie is confident -- but her enthusiasm and impulsiveness sometimes lead her astray. The McCoy family is loving and supportive, encouraging curiosity and honesty. Some adults at school are portrayed as comically hostile to children, and a couple of Moxie's classmates are pointedly mean to her.

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What's the story?

THE REAL MCCOYS introduces Moxie, an exuberantly confident fourth-grade detective who's in search of a replacement for her best friend (and crime-fighting partner), who moved away. It's a terrible time to have to work alone, too: The school's stuffed mascot, Eddie the Owl, disappears on the day of the big awards assembly. Moxie eagerly investigates, putting her reputation on the line to try to find Eddie and win the coveted Eddie Award. But figuring out whodunit keeps getting her in trouble -- and complicates her best friend search. To her surprise, her odd, quiet little brother may prove to be just the partner she needs.

Is it any good?

This remarkable new series brings a fresh style to the familiar girl-detective genre with a wonderfully spunky heroine and whimsical illustrations that make every page a delight to explore. In The Real McCoys, illustrator Robbi Behr shows Moxie's overactive imagination spilling over, onto, and through the energetic story written by her husband, Matthew Swanson. Silhouettes, dialogue bubbles, word art, and fanciful artwork are as lively and engaging as Moxie herself.

Confident and full of swagger, Moxie knows she'd be a better detective with a partner who has complementary talents. Her enthusiasm -- to solve the case and be recognized as a hero -- makes her a little sloppy, but her big heart and big goals win over even her exasperated principal. With its humor, wisdom, and bubbly art, this book is sure to appeal to even the most reluctant reader.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the blending of words and images in The Real McCoys. How is it different from other illustrated chapter books?

  • What makes Moxie a good crime-solver? What are her weaknesses?

  • Are you inspired by any favorite fictional characters, the way Moxie is inspired by Annabelle Adams?

Book details

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For kids who love strong girls and female detectives

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