If you landed here because you’re looking for books for 7th graders, I can make an easy recommendation for you! Have you ever heard of Big Al’s Books & Pals? It’s one of the most respected indie book review sites on the internet. If you’ve heard of it, great; if you haven’t, it’s not a big deal.
BUT, either way, I should point out that The Marshmallow Hammer Detective Agency won the Readers’ Choice Award for the Best Children’s/Middle Grade Title.
How cool is that? You’ll be able to read the first chapter below.
“The sudden and unexpected arrival of a mysterious package interrupts Hat Tintersmoot’s twelfth birthday. Where did it come from? Who left it? Once she discovers that the small cardboard box is a gift from her Grandpa Gordon, the mystery deepens…considering the fact that he passed away three years ago.
The handwritten note reads, “Inside this box is an impossible mystery that only the purest of hearts can ever hope to uncover. Solve it, and you will discover the answer to one of the greatest secrets ever.”
It’s another perfect job for the owner of The Marshmallow Hammer Detective Agency. With the help of a new best friend, and her first official employee, Hat must uncover the truth behind five difficult clues in order to find the answer to the greatest secret ever.”
I’m sure there are tons of books for 7th graders, but I’ll shamelessly admit to plugging one of my own novels. You know why?
Because I’m seriously proud of this middle-grade book and all the amazing reviews its gotten over the past couple of years.
See, I’m primarily an author of mysteries and thrillers for adults. Over 800,000 copies of my work have been downloaded worldwide. My novel Sara’s Game has been on the USA Today bestseller list, and my paranormal series, written under the pen name Desmond Doane, has had some interest from Hollywood for the film and tv rights.
Still, The Marshmallow Hammer Detective Agency speaks to my heart the most.
And why is it so special?
1) Because I’m a parent, and it’s full of life lessons that I one day hope to pass on to our little guy once he gets old enough.
2) Because I’m a fan of mysteries, games, and puzzles, and I feel like a lot of books for 7th graders don’t incorporate enough FUN.
This one does.
(If you’re reading this, and you’re in 7th grade, and you’re looking for good books to read, have Mom and Dad check it out first. Even adults love this story!)
I mentioned the Readers’ Choice Award; here’s the review that accompanied it:
Big Al’s Books & Pals Reviews The Marshmallow Hammer Detective Agency
5 out of 5 Stars
Review Credit Courtesy of Big Al:
Twelve year-old Halcyone Acasia Tintersmoot, known as “Hat” (her initials and the thing you wear on your head). She has this nickname for the obvious reason that her real name is a mouthful. She’s the owner of “The Marshmallow Hammer Detective Agency.”
You won’t find it in the phone book, but it is as real as it gets, at least to Hat. Although this is the first book in the series, Hat mentions other cases she’s worked on and sometimes solved. “The Case of the Disappearing Toothbrush,” is one. You’ve probably worked a case like that one yourself. “The Mysterious Case of the Cute Boy on the School Bus” is an open case that Hat manages to solve while working on the current case.
When I read and review children’s books, I’ll sometimes draft The Princess, my now eleven year-old granddaughter, to assist. Our process is for her to read a book first, then tell me what she thought, with likes, dislikes, and a letter grade, just like a report card.
I’ll then read the book so I can add my impressions while watching for the things The Princess has mentioned. I think The Mysterious Case of the Golden Egg received the most accolades of any book we’ve done this with. Her report to me started with “I liked this a lot” and ended with, “I’d give it a grade of A plus, plus, plus …”
I finally told her I got the idea so she’d stop with the pluses.
The mystery to be solved was set up by Hat’s grandfather, who died three years earlier. Before he died, which he knew was coming, he’d arranged for Hat to receive the first clue on her twelfth birthday.
Grandpa Gordon was a private detective and liked to talk to Hat about his cases, which was Hat’s inspiration to become a detective. One of the comments The Princess made was that the mystery wasn’t like some, where you found out the solution, and felt cheated that the clues weren’t there to solve it while reading. She felt the clues were tough, but also liked that many of them she was able to figure out.
The mystery hit the right balance for the age the book is aimed for. The Princess also thought the book would be fun to read aloud to younger kids and although it would be an easy read for an adult, she thought “even a grownup would like it.”
The Princess was right. I was surprised at how much I liked this book. The clues were fun to try and figure out, and not too easy, even for someone several times older than the target reader.
As Hat works her way through the clues she meets and helps several of her Grandpa’s friends (an aspect of the book The Princess also thought important enough to mention) and in doing so learns a lot of life lessons that Grandpa knew he wouldn’t be around to teach her in person. The Princess and I both hope the author continues this series. It’s off to a great start.
Like Al notes, so far, this is the only book in the series, but are you ready to read the first chapter? Here we go.
The Marshmallow Hammer Detective Agency – Chapter 1
My name is Halcyone Acasia Tintersmoot.
Please don’t hold that against me.
Everyone calls me “Hat,” you know, because of my initials, and I don’t mind it at all—in fact, I prefer it, even though my full name comes from historical family origins and has been handed down through many, many generations.
I am the owner and proprietor of The Marshmallow Hammer Detective Agency. It’s a small, one-girl operation that I run out of my bedroom; that is, when I can keep my younger brothers and sisters from barging in and disrupting important detective work.
Ma says that if I have another project (she calls them “projects” and doesn’t understand that this is serious business) like the last one, which I called The Mysterious Case of the Golden Egg, then maybe I can set up shop in the garage where it’s quiet and I can study clues uninterrupted.
It was my most important case yet, and, anyway, this is how I solved it.
On the morning of my twelfth birthday, I got an unexpected present from my Grandpa Gordon, which was weird, considering he passed away when I was nine.
Ma went out the front door, carrying her coffee and wearing that blue bathrobe with the white flowers on it, her hair up in curlers and feet tucked into those ugly, white fuzzy slippers that keep her toes warm, even when it’s a hundred degrees outside. I heard a scream, followed by a crash—we all did from our seats at the breakfast table—and Pa dropped his newspaper, then ran toward the noise. I remember how his bare feet sounded when they slapped across the kitchen tiles. It was like somebody dropped a bunch of steaks in a hurry.
Of course, the rest of us followed: James, Donald, Emily, Laura, and me. (Somehow they all got normal names, but I guess that’s the benefit of not being the firstborn child in the Tintersmoot family.)
When we got to the front door, Ma held a small brown package in one hand and had the other covering her mouth. I couldn’t tell if she was laughing or crying, but her shoulders shook like it might have been either. Pa’s hands were on his hips, red pajama bottoms flapping in the breeze, and his wild, morning hair was splayed out in a bunch of different directions. He looked confused.
The five of us took a step closer, peppering Ma with questions about what was in her hand and what happened and who left it.
Pa pointed a finger toward the walkway and told us to be careful. The coffee cup had shattered into a bunch of pieces and the way it was scattered around, it could’ve been a ceramic jigsaw puzzle that someone dumped out of a box.
I said, “What is that, Ma?”
Her eyes were wet and red, but she didn’t seem sad, like maybe it was a happy cry. She held the box out to me. “It’s for you, honey. A birthday present from Grandpa Gordon.”
“Grandpa Gordon?” I took the box from her. It was heavy for such a little thing, but I cradled it delicately because this was a present from the past. “But how? He died—”
“Let me see it!” Emily reached for the box, but I turned away from her just in time, before she could get her syrupy, pancake hands on it.
“No fair,” James shouted. “Why does she get something from Grandpa Gordon?” He’s a year younger than me, and from what he says, things are never fair between us. It might be a little mean, but I enjoy rubbing it in sometimes. After all, what are younger brothers for if you can’t remind them who’s the boss once in a while?
“Now, now,” Ma said. “It’s Hat’s birthday, and besides, I don’t know where it came from or why. He never said anything about something like this. Wait—unless it’s the thing—Carl, do you remember?”
Pa shook his head and tried to mash his crazy hair down. “It could be.”
“Could be what?” I asked.
“Nothing,” Pa said. “More important, you know what this means, don’t you?” He looked at me with a knowing grin.
I jerked the box away again as Laura tried to grab it. “No, what?”
“Seems to me like The Marshmallow Hammer Detective Agency has another case to solve.”
I smiled back at him. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it first.
Later, after breakfast, after Ma had sent everyone outside to play so I could open my gift in peace, it occurred to me that Pa had no idea how true those words were.
Another case to solve, indeed.
END OF CHAPTER ONE
My Final Thoughts on Books for 7th Graders
Okay, readers, there you have it. You came looking for books for 7th graders, and I hope I’ve made my case for why you should read The Marshmallow Hammer Detective Agency!
Feel free to contact me with any questions, and if you’re interested in purchasing an autographed paperback, send me an email with the subject line “Autographed Marshmallow” and we’ll work it out.
Parents… Book Reviewers… If you have a blog or website, please consider posting a link to this page and sharing with your reading friends and family. Again, The Marshmallow Hammer it available on Amazon Kindle and in paperback.