Edgar Allan is in the 5th grade at Wordswoth Elementary School. After someone steals Slurpy, Ms. Hershel's classroom fish, Edgar Allan starts an investigation notebook to catch the thief. Soon other things start disappearing from Ms. Hershel's classroom. The thief always leaves a poem. Edgar Allan has a few suspect and all of them are in his class. He really wants to solve the case before his rival, Patrick Chen.
I really enjoyed this one. It was a whole lot of fun and very well layered. Edgar Allan is a regular boy who doesn't stand out but still wants to be recognized for being good at something. His parents are talented clowns who make children in the hospital laugh. His older brother, Herni has found what he's good at (the clarinet). Before case of the missing classroom fish Edgar Allan had no special thing to call his own.
"For the rest of dinner, Edgar's parents and Henri talked about the Cabaret. It was supposed to be fun, but Edgar found it stressful because he didn't have a talent. Last year his dad had tried to teach him how to play the accordion, but his fingers kept tripping over the buttons and he quit. "Are you doing anything for it this year, Edgar?" Henri asked. Edgar pushed his plate away. "No." "Why don't you play the cowbell on the song your dad and I are doing?" Twig said. Henri laughed. "Yeah. Play the cowbell." Tubby gave Henri a look. " The cowbell is a great idea right, Henri?" "Right," Henri said, trying unsuccessfully to hide his smile.
Amato does an excellent job with Edgar Allan's voice.
"I am in the bathroom right now because I am too mad to be in the same room with anybody, and they are taking up all the good rooms. I am sitting in the bathtub with all my clothes on because I don't feel like sitting on the toilet, and there are no chairs in here."
Much of the story is set at school. While Edgar Allan is trying to find the thief, Mr. Crews the language arts teacher is on the poetry segment. Like many people at first Edgar Allan doesn't really get poetry, then one day it simply clicks for him. Edgar Allan accidentally finds what he was looking for.
He's still trying to find the classroom thief but with poetry it's a whole new Edgar Allan. Amato surrounds her main protagonist with some great characters, including two of his suspects, Taz and Destiny. I loved the two friendships that came out of Edgar Allan's early suspicions. They were natural and believable making for a more well rounded story. ages 8up
While I read this, I found myself thinking about another middle grade book I enjoyed this year. Preller's Justin Fisher's Declares War. Also set in the fifth grade, taking place mainly at school. Both novels have a fish on the cover and are less then a 150 pages.