Disappearing Acts (Herculeah Jones Series)

Disappearing Acts (Herculeah Jones Series)

4.7 10
by Betsy Byars

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When Herculeah Jones's best friend, Meat, decides to take a comedy class, he just expects to get a few laughs. But then he discovers a dead body in the bathroom, and realizes that there's nothing funny about murder. Things can't get any worse—until the body disappears! Meat needs Herculeah's help to uncover the clues, but she's busy investigating a case of

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When Herculeah Jones's best friend, Meat, decides to take a comedy class, he just expects to get a few laughs. But then he discovers a dead body in the bathroom, and realizes that there's nothing funny about murder. Things can't get any worse—until the body disappears! Meat needs Herculeah's help to uncover the clues, but she's busy investigating a case of her own . . . one that might just change Meat's life forever!

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
In this newest "Herculeah Jones Mystery" book, friend Meat is featured as the protagonist, with Herculeah being the helpful buddy. Thinking that a course in comedy performance may help him overcome his issues with weight and peer relationships, Meat enrolls in a class at the Funny Bonz comedy club. In this dreary, dilapidated building, on the first night of class, Meat stumbles on the body of a girl in the men's bathroom, only to have it disappear, leaving class members with the impression that Meat is a practical joker. While Meat does his own sleuthing, Herculeah is caught up in her own mystery, a result of another of her visits to the second-hand shop, Hidden Treasures. She has purchased a camera and developed the film, finding pictures of Meat as a very young child with an unidentified man. As both mysteries come to a close, Meat is united with his long-absent father and readers learn that his mom was never comfortable with dad's choice of occupation. However, Meat is proud of his dad. Only criticism: aficionados of WWF wrestling may get confused with the mingling of fictional characters with popular wrestlers of a few years ago.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7Herculeah Jones, the girl whose hair frizzes whenever danger lurks, is back. This time, there are actually two mysteries to solve. The first involves pictures on an unfinished roll of film that Herculeah finds inside a camera she purchases at a resale shop. The second puzzle revolves around finding out about a dead body that her friend Meat claims to have seen at the comedy club where he is taking classes. The overweight boy finds the body in a bathroom stall, but it disappears before anyone else sees it. Meat is a reluctant detective, but, with a wallet he picked up from the bathroom floor as his only clue, he embarks on a mission to prove what he saw. Herculeah, on the other hand, is so involved in her photos that she leaves her friend to solve the case with minimal help from her or her detective dad, Chico Jones. The clues are nicely wrapped up at the finish. The novel is fast paced and humorous with both characters learning about themselves while working on their respective problems. By the end, Meat also learns who his father is and discovers that his bulk can become as asset. The book can stand alone, but Herculeah's fans will not be disappointed.Linda L. Plevak, Alamo Area Library System, San Antonio, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Frizzing up whenever danger threatens, amateur sleuth Herculeah Jones's hair gets a real workout in this tale of murder, weight, and family secrets. The spotlight is on Herculeah's chunky friend, Meat, who finds a corpse in the restroom of the local comedy club. Moments later, the body's gonealthough a trail of clues remains. Meanwhile, on the film from an old camera, Herculeah finds pictures of Meat's long-absent father, and believes she must conceal them. Byars (Tarot Says Beware, 1995, etc.) keeps readers on the edges of their seats with alternating shocks, cliff- hangers, and revelations; she throws in plenty of red herrings, plus tantalizing references to Herculeah's past and future cases before closing with a dazzling series of twists: Not only does the killer turn out to be a sympathetic sort who strangled her comedian boyfriend for telling "fat" jokes at her expense (in a mordant denouement, she and Meat reel off a series), but contrary to Herculeah's expectations, Meat is thrilled to learn that his father is Macho Man, a WrestleMania regular. Some plot elements get short shrift, but several characters show surprising depth, and readers should be prepared to read this in one breathless sitting. (Fiction. 10-12)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Herculeah Jones Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 6.98(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Betsy Byars began her writing career rather late in life. "In all of my school years, . . . not one single teacher ever said to me, 'Perhaps you should consider becoming a writer,'" Byars recalls. "Anyway, I didn't want to be a writer. Writing seemed boring. You sat in a room all day by yourself and typed. If I was going to be a writer at all, I was going to be a foreign correspondent like Claudette Colbert in Arise My Love. I would wear smashing hats, wisecrack with the guys, and have a byline known round the world. My father wanted me to be a mathematician." So Byars set out to become mathematician, but when she couldn't grasp calculus in college, she turned to English. Even then, writing was not on her immediate horizon.

First, she married and started a family. The writing career didn't emerge until she was 28, a mother of two children, and living in a small place she called the barracks apartment, in Urbana, Illinois. She and her husband, Ed, had moved there in 1956 so he could attend graduate school at the University of Illinois. She was bored, had no friends, and so turned to writing to fill her time. Byars started writing articles for The Saturday Evening Post, Look,and other magazines. As her family grew and her children started to read, she began to write books for young people and, fortunately for her readers, discovered that there was more to being a writer than sitting in front of a typewriter.

"Making up stories and characters is so interesting that I'm never bored. Each book has been a different writing experience. It takes me about a year to write a book, but I spend another year thinking about it, polishing it, and making improvements. I always put something of myself intomy books — something that happened to me. Once a wanderer came by my house and showed me how to brush my teeth with a cherry twig; that went in The House of Wingscopyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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Disappearing Acts (Herculeah Jones Series) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The books of Herculeah Jones mysteries are so ecxiting that I almost fell out my bed reading it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is interesting very mysterious
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great but there were tons of miss spellings that made it less interesting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the book was so good i had so much fun reading it
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book when I was in elementary school and am looking for another book by the same author Betsy Cromer Byars it was one of the few mysteries I recommend because it gives you wanting to know what's next! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plz tell me how it go
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Have you ever seen a dead body in the bathroom? Or have you ever wanted to be a spy? Well in the book Disappearing Act, by Betsy Byars, Herculeah is a spy. Her best friend Meat went to a club called Funny Bonz. When he went to the bathroom he saw a dead body on the floor. He ran out screaming and then they knew they had a mystery on their hands. I think this book is funny. An example of what I thought was funny was when Meat was having a conversation with Big Mike and were being mean they were making fun of a fat girl I thought it was funny but mean. Big Mike said ¿If you have a fat girlfriend it would be hard to tell the boobs from the tubes¿(pg.91). Another example of what I thought in the book was when Herculeah was having a conversation with Meat¿s mother. ¿Hi ma¿am do you by any chance know where Meat is,¿Herculeah asked ever so nicely. Meat¿s mother answer ¿He is at Funny Bonz.¿ What¿s that?¿ Herculeah asked. ¿A new rib place? We all know how Meat likes ribs¿(pg.13). That part was funny because they were joking on how Meat likes ribs. This is a good book I would rate it on a scale of 1-5 a high 5 because it¿s a mystery but a funny one. I would recommend this book to Middle and High Schools students.