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Children's LiteratureTodd Sloan and Noelle Trocoderro do not know what to do. Their mentor, a police officer named Dr. Smiley, is taking a new job in another town. They worry that their teacher, who is a good friend of Dr. Smiley's, will also follow her and leave them behind. Without the two adults who taught them how science is used to solve crimes, will the Third-Grade Detectives be defunct? The kids must solve codes and use science to solve a crime, but the story is really about how rumors get out of hand. That message comes across heavy-handed in a plot that does not show kids actually using science until the final chapter. However, teachers might find the back matter on how to interpret tree rings useful. The dialogue in this novel feels stilted for third graders and, with little description to go on, the characters never really come alive. Perceptive children might wonder why Todd and Noelle's teacher busies his students with secret codes when he knows how to solve the mystery all along. There is nothing exciting about the solution of the crime or the conclusion of the story. The kids find the culprit easily, and Dr. Smiley decides the Third Grade Detectives are more important to her than a career move. This book is number eight in the "Third-Grade Detectives" series. 2004, Aladdin Paperbacks/Simon & Schuster, Ages 7 to 10.