Friday, March 2, 2012

Book Review: Chase Against Time by Steve Reifman

Chase Against Time by Steve Reifman
Publisher: Brown Books
Publish Date: March 15, 2012
Hardcover, 140 pages 
Fiction, Middle Grades, Mystery
 Chase Manning Mysteries #1

My Review:
What a fun book and perfect for the age group that Mr. Reifman intends it for.  I can see reading Chase Against Time to my almost 7-year-old who is an advanced reader and he would enjoy it and I can see my 11-year-old enjoying it on his own.  And the nice thing is I can see both girls and boys enjoying this one.  Yes the main character is a boy (which is nice for this mom of boys), but I'm a girl and I really enjoyed it.  Chase's best friend is a girl, and while she doesn't have a huge role, she is still important and I think that lends a credence to the novel for girls as well as boys.

Chase Against Time has a great mystery plot.  As an adult, I was even trying to figure it out for a time.  Mr. Reifman does a great job presenting numerous what-if situations for Chase to investigate.  I also found that Chase is just an ordinary fifth-grader.  No super-powers and no extraordinary investigation skills beyond what he has seen on tv, which gave me a good laugh.  He just uses his head and that's what kids reading the book will do, they will reason out what they have seen in the book to try and figure out who did it and why.  I also liked the music angle.  Chase and his friends are trying to save the music program, which is something that seems important to the whole school.  And while it wasn't something I could relate to personally, the love of the program from the kids came off of the pages and I felt for them.  So I can see boys that love sports even liking this book and empathizing with these kids.  Mr. Reifman really seems to understand kids and how to portray them in fiction in a very believable way.

The characters are interesting, the plot is interesting and the length is perfect for this age group.  Yes your more advanced readers can read longer books, I can too, but sometimes this type of book is just what a kid is looking for.  It grabs their attention, they can read it, understand it and it just might be the type of book that endears them towards reading for life.  That's why I love this book.  I think it fulfills a niche that needs to be fulfilled, it's hip enough for this age group, it has a good mystery and it's a quick and easy read without being too easy to insult their intelligence.  It's just perfect.  Mr. Reifman has scored a home run with this one.  I look forward to more books in this series, so get out there, recommend this one, get a copy for a child you know and there will be more in the series to come!

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Parental guidance: It's for middle grade, ages 8-12, very clean as expected.

About the Book:
In a last-ditch effort to save Apple Valley Elementary’s award-winning music program from looming budget cuts, the PTA plans to auction off a recently-donated, handcrafted cello at the school’s annual fund-raising dinner. Confidence is high – until the cello turns up missing the morning of the event. The school principal charges Chase Manning, a fifth grader who has dreamed of playing in the Sixth Grade Honors Orchestra his whole life, with finding the cello by three o’clock. Each hour of the school day involves surprising and suspense-filled plot turns as Chase pursues the elusive cello. This single-day, real-time mystery thriller truly is a Chase against time!

About the Author (from 
I am a National Board Certified elementary school teacher, writer, and speaker in Santa Monica, CA. I am the author of several resource books for educators, including Eight Essentials for Empowered Teaching and Learning, K-8. I am also the creator of the Chase Manning Mystery Series for kids 8-12. Each book in the series features a single-day, real-time thriller that occurs on an elementary school campus. For tips and strategies on teaching the whole child, visit


FTC Information: I received this book from the author for an honest review.  


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