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By Christine Verstraete

book info and links –

Move over Trixie Beldon and look out Nancy Drew.

 Ms. Verstraete has created a new addition to any child’s library, thirteen year-old Samantha Ann Carlton, and she is as curious as any tween/teen sleuth I’ve ever read.

 In “Searching for a Starry Night,” Sam, her friend Lita, and Sam’s mom are looking for the miniature reproduction of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. This small-scale picture is one of the treasures in her late Aunt Hilda’s collection. It is worth $225 and someone has taken it.

 Samantha has decided it is up to her and Lita to find the thief and get the picture back for her mom and the museum.

 I grew up reading Trixie, Nancy, Hardy Boys, and the Famous Five and I look forward to my daughter reading “Searching for a Starry Night.” Ms. Verstraete maintains the same level of interest and mystery that my childhood favourites contained.

 She also uses “Searching for a Starry Night” as an unique vehicle in presenting the hobbies — dollhouses and miniature paintings. I’m intrigued.

 Her characters are never obnoxious know-it-alls; however, they are not cutesy perfect. They remind me of some girls around my own neighbourhood…imaginative, personable, and mischievous. Sam and Lita even have their arguments and require their own time to work their thoughts out…something some adults forget tweens need.

 And I can’t forget Petey, the one year-old Dachshund; he adds just the right mix of humour and trouble.

 “Searching for a Starry Night” is, in my opinion, a fun way to spend time reading with any child and also introduce them to new hobbies.