The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit

( 4 )


Meet Randi Rhodes, the world’s first ninja detective! Mystery abounds in this delightful new middle grade series from Academy Award–winning actress Octavia Spencer.

Deer Creek is a small town whose only hope for survival is the success of their Founder’s Day Festival. But the festival’s main attraction, a time capsule that many people believe hold the town’s treasure, has gone missing.

Randi Rhodes and her best friend, D.C., are Bruce ...

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The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit

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Meet Randi Rhodes, the world’s first ninja detective! Mystery abounds in this delightful new middle grade series from Academy Award–winning actress Octavia Spencer.

Deer Creek is a small town whose only hope for survival is the success of their Founder’s Day Festival. But the festival’s main attraction, a time capsule that many people believe hold the town’s treasure, has gone missing.

Randi Rhodes and her best friend, D.C., are Bruce Lee–inspired ninjas and local detectives determined to solve the case. Even if it means investigating in a haunted cabin and facing mean old Angus McCarthy, prime suspect.

They have three days to find the treasure…the future of their whole town is at stake! Will these kids be able to save the day?

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  • Octavia Spencer on The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit
    Octavia Spencer on The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Academy Award–winning actor Spencer debuts with an assured, entertaining whodunit that launches the Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective series. Still smarting from her mother’s death, 12-year-old Randi finds comfort in solving neighborhood mysteries, mimicking the heroine of her father’s detective novels. A black belt in Tae Kwon Do, headstrong Randi resents her father’s overprotectiveness and his decision to relocate from Brooklyn to Tennessee. It proves to be a saving move for Randi, who swore off friends after her mother died (“It was easier to be alone than it was to feel pitied all the time”). She lets her guard down and befriends two boys who help her locate a missing time capsule. The curlicue mystery involves some silly small-town drama and a few extraneous loops, but also considerable suspense. There are genuinely affecting moments, too; one of Randi’s friends, whose father abandoned his family, tells her it’s okay to cry: “You don’t have to be tough all the time.” To contributes polished, cinematically lit illustrations (not all seen by PW), and appendices outline tips for aspiring sleuths. Ages 8–12. Agent: Andy McNicol, William Morris Endeavor. Illustrator’s agent: Shannon Associates. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Denise Daley
Twelve-year-old Randi Rhodes has been solving mysteries for as long as she can remember. Her dad, unfortunately, is unaware of Randi's abilities even though he himself is an author famous for writing detective novels. Randi is upset that she and her dad are moving from the city to boring Deer Creek, but her spirits are brightened when the town's time-capsule mysteriously disappears. Many of the townsfolk were hoping that the time capsule contained the secrets of a buried treasure and its disappearance gives Randi a new case to work on. With her newfound friend D.C., Randi uncovers clues and uses reasoning in an attempt to track the missing time-capsule. The reader can uncover the clues with Randi and there are activities at the end of the book that teach the reader some of Randi's techniques, such as how to get rid of skunk stink and how to conduct a stakeout. This fast-paced book flows easily and is both engaging and entertaining. Randi is accurately portrayed as a curious yet caring pre-teen who sometimes quarrels with her dad, and readers will undoubtedly identify with her as they master their own sleuthing skills. Reviewer: Denise Daley
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Randi, 12, a reluctant new resident of sleepy Deer Creek, Tennessee, is a black-belt karate expert and a budding detective. She and her father, a famous suspense writer, are mourning the recent death of her mother. Randi meets D.C., an asthmatic, bullied, wannabe Bruce Lee, and together they decide to find the missing time capsule upon which the economically depressed town has pinned all its hopes of revitalization. Mysterious Pudge Taylor rounds out the group. If they don't locate the treasure everyone believes is in the time capsule, the mayor and his cronies will buy up the town and turn it into a luxury golfing lodge. Ghosts, an angry old guy, suspicious federal agents, and town founders all factor in to the exciting mystery. Spencer keeps up the pace and the sense of danger. The characters are interesting, and each one deals with some pretty serious issues. All in all, this is a promising start to a series that should appeal to both boys and girls, including reluctant readers.—B. Allison Gray, Goleta Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan meet Nancy Drew. In this first novel by Oscar-winning actress Spencer, Randi Rhodes thrives on solving the mysteries that unfold in her busy Brooklyn neighborhood. Her father, Herb Rhodes, author of the best-selling Glenn Street detective novels, spent Randi's childhood on book tours but stopped writing after his wife's recent death from cancer. Ready for a change, Herb moves the family to the small town of Deer Creek, Tenn., where they always spend summer vacations. Shortly after their arrival, in the midst of the Founders' Day Festival, someone steals the Deer Creek time capsule, which might hold the town's treasure. Randi, a black belt in karate, teams up with hearing-impaired, asthmatic Dario "D.C." Cruz and lithe African-American Pudge Taylor from Boston to crack the case of the missing time capsule. Replete with crooked politicians, a spooky house and a ghost, a stormy night, caves with bandits and bats, and several well-placed martial arts kicks, this novel will keep young readers guessing. Despite the difficulty of keeping track of the minor characters, readers will appreciate Randi's determination to make a difference. A series of appendices includes ninja tips and recipes. A quick read about a girl sleuth whose fiery determination will leave readers wanting Book 2. (Mystery. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442476813
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 10/15/2013
  • Series: Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective Series, #1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 280,346
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 680L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Octavia Spencer
A veteran character actress and one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents, Octavia Spencer has become a familiar fixture on both television and silver screen. Her critically acclaimed performance as Minny in the DreamWorks feature film The Help won her a 2012 Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, a SAG Award, and a Broadcast Film Critics’ Choice Award, among countless other honors. Octavia is a native of Montgomery, Alabama, and holds a BS in Liberal Arts from Auburn University. She lives in Los Angeles. Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit was her first novel.

Vivienne To has illustrated several books, including The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins and the Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective series by Octavia Spencer. As a child, she had two pet mice escape. She currently lives in Sydney, Australia, with her partner and her ginger cat. Visit her at

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Read an Excerpt

Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit



Gotcha! Randi Rhodes thought. Now smile real big for the camera.

Down on the sidewalk, three stories below her bedroom window, the man in the navy suit checked over his shoulder to make sure no one was watching. It was six o’clock on a Friday morning. Most of Randi’s Brooklyn neighbors were still snuggled up in their beds, but Randi had gotten up at the crack of dawn, just as she had for the past three days. She’d been on a stakeout for over an hour, never budging from her post while she waited for the man to show up with his dog.

Randi snapped several photos of the man and a few more of his prissy white Pekingese. And when the pair hurried off around the corner, she zoomed in for a close-up of the mess that the dastardly villains had left behind. The pretty pink tulips she’d planted as bait in front of her house had been ripped up at the roots. The only things left behind were a hole in the ground and a sprinkling of soil on the sidewalk.

How many gardens have you destroyed? she thought. How many old ladies have woken up to find their pansies plucked and their rosebushes ransacked? How many kids won’t get to enjoy the first flowers they ever helped plant? How many lives have you made a little less beautiful? All because you’re too cheap to buy your flowers from a florist.

Randi downloaded the photos onto her computer and printed out a few of the best. The man in the pictures lived three blocks away. He’d been her prime suspect for quite some time. Front-yard flowers had been disappearing every morning since the man and his family had moved into the neighborhood. However, until now, the evidence against him had been circumstantial. Finally, Randi had proof.

Another case closed. Randi congratulated herself. She folded the pictures and stuffed them into an envelope. Then she typed out a note on her computer.

Dear Sir,

At 6:10 a.m. on the morning of June 15th, you were photographed stealing tulips from a garden on Bergen Street. Since you’re new to the neighborhood, you might not be aware that there are many fine florists within a few blocks of your home. From now on, please visit one of these businesses whenever you want a few freshly cut flowers. If you keep “weeding” your neighbors’ front yards, I’ll make sure that every gardener in Brooklyn knows who to thank.

Randi rooted through her desk for her favorite pen, a blue ballpoint with a chewed-up cap she’d found among her mom’s old things. She signed the letter Glenn Street.

~ ~ ~ ~

A few hours later, with her belly full of breakfast, Randi shoved the envelope into the back pocket of her jeans and set off to make the delivery.

“Hey!” her dad called when he heard the front door open. “Where ya going?”

“Just for a walk around the block,” Randi told him. “I’ll be right back.”

“I hope so,” he said. “We’re leaving on Sunday and you haven’t even packed.”

Randi frowned. “I’m waiting for you to change your mind.”

“Not going to happen. So don’t disappear. And, hon?”


“Please. Be careful!”

Be careful? Randi thought miserably as she stomped down the street. I’m not the one you should be worried about. What’s going to happen to the neighborhood if you drag me away? I keep these streets clean. I take the cases that the NYPD won’t bother with. Who else is going to catch all the litterbugs? Who’s going to bring Brooklyn’s bullies, plant snatchers, and pigeon nappers to justice?

~ ~ ~ ~

When she reached the man’s house, she could see his white Pekingese peeping out of the parlor window. A vase filled with pretty pink tulips sat on a table next to the sofa. Randi scrambled up the building’s stoop and shoved her envelope through the mail slot. In the past, she would have tried to be more discreet. Who cares if they ID me? I’m leaving Brooklyn forever. Besides, maybe it’s time everyone knows I’m the real Glenn Street.

It stung a bit to think that none of the neighbors had ever figured it out. Randi might have solved thirty-two cases, but adults just saw a tall kid with knobby knees; fiery red ringlets; and a freckled, moon-shaped face. They never saw the real Miranda Rhodes. Most people in the neighborhood believed Randi’s dad was Brooklyn’s mysterious watchdog. After all, Glenn Street was the heroine of his bestselling detective books. But Herb Rhodes would usually laugh out loud whenever the subject was raised. He claimed he was flattered that a crime-fighting vigilante had decided to borrow his character’s name.

Randi wondered how he’d feel if he ever found out that the vigilante in question was his twelve-year-old daughter.

Go to Appendix A to complete the first Ninja Task!

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2014

    Dont ever read this

    I read it once and i hated it. And i like almost every book i see.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2013

    It sounds interesting

    I've never heard of a "ninja detective" so its very creative. I have never read it but I want to. This should cost more!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2015


    Did this go through?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2015

    Good for middle-grade mystery fans.

    Good for middle-grade mystery fans.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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