Author: Valerie C. Woods
Genre: Psychic Girl Detectives, Middle Grade
On the verge of entering high school, precociously eloquent 13 -year-old Katrin DuBois feels it’s never too soon to start an autobiography. She decides to set the record straight about the outrageous rumors concerning certain adventures that began when she was in sixth grade. That’s when her elder sister, 8th grader J. Dyanne, began exhibiting extraordinary detecting skills, and emerging psychic abilities.
Set during the latter half of 1968, these African-American tweens live in a working class neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. They manage to thrive in a world of social change with multi-generational family support, creative quick-thinking and fearless inquisitiveness. The dog days of August find them prohibited by their parents from visiting the Central Library downtown because of the riots during the Democratic Convention. However, there’s plenty of adventure in their own neighborhood as they become swept up in family mysteries, neighborhood political schemes and the discovery of a surprising legacy of psychic, even supernatural, talent.
Katrin’s Chronicles: The Canon of Jacqueléne Dyanne, expands the girl detective genre to include these smart, sister sleuths.
Katrin’s Chronicles: The Canon of Jacqueléne Dyanne left me a little confused. The story was solid and appropriate for the target audience, middle graders. The characters were well-rounded, and each of them had distinct personalities. For instance, J. Dyanne was constantly worried about people finding out about her gifts, whereas Katrin was more at ease about that.
The plot was okay as well. It wasn’t that original, but the mix of psychic gifts did add an original element that I found very entertaining. J. Dyanne has always had a gift. She dreamed about events about to take place, and took to chatting to her great aunt in her dreams. Since she loves solving mysteries, she uses her abilities and her quick mind to solve a mystery involving local girl Patrice and the town’s sports star and son of the town’s reverend, which instantly gets her more attention than she’d like.
Katrin and her sister go on to solve heaps of other mysteries, have family meetings, and discover their talents.
So far, so good. I liked the plot, the psychic part, and most of the characters – except for Patrice, who I’m certain nobody really likes.
But then there’s the writing. I’m not sure what it is about the writing, but it seems inappropriate, too grown up for the target age group. The girls don’t talk like kids, and since this is from Katrin’s POV, you’d think she’d somewhat write like a kid, but she talks like an adult. For me, the writing never really took off. When I read middle grade, I expect something light, written in a tone kids would use, and here I got the feeling the book was written for adults, but happens to have kids as a main character.
Anyway, apart from that, I did like the book. It’s a nice read, but there are some big words in there, especially for kids.