The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill – Case #2: Mineral Mischief by Renee Hand

Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill are back with another mystery to solve in Mineral Mischief  by award-winning author Renee Hand.

Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill are called in to investigate when Maple Moo’s rare and expensive mineral goes missing. The most famous detectives in Acorn Valley, they go about questioning the suspects, determined to find the culprit.

I was thrilled when Renee contacted me about touring the second book in her animal detective series. I had already read and reviewed the first book in this series,The Great Pie Catastrophe, and I’ve been a fan of her Crypto-Capers series for years.

Mineral Mischief  combines an engaging story with factual information about rocks and minerals to create a story your children will enjoy. What I like best about this book is that the facts are woven into the storyline in a perfect way so that the reader gains the information without feeling like he’s sitting through a science class.

Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill have a wonderful relationship, so they make great partners, even when they don’t see eye-to-eye on how to handle things. The book actually opens with a bullying scene. This is a timely subject for our children, and I was glad the author worked it into the storyline. She also manages to tie in the opening scene with the ending so the reader is satisfied at the conclusion of the story.

The illustrations provided by Jake Karwoski are a wonderful complement to the text. Also included is a Did You Know? page, terms to identify rocks and minerals, a few experiments, and a picture of The Rock Cycle.

All learning should be this fun!

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:North Star Press
  • ISBN-10:087839415X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878394159
  • SRP:  $9.95

The author paid me to promote her book with a virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book. This fee did not include a review. This review includes my honest opinion, for which I received no type of monetary compenasation.

The Crypto-Capers: The Chest of Mystery by Renee Hand

In the highly-anticipated conclusion of the seach for the Golden Monkey, the Crypto-Capers team is up to their eyeballs in danger and mystery. Book 4 in the series, The Chest of Mystery,  picks up right where Book 3 left off. Having found two of the pieces to open the treasure room in the previous book, they discover they have only solved half the puzzle. With the Panther hot on their trail, time is running out.

The team travels to Pisa, Italy to meet with the one man who holds all the answers. But when he disappears without a trace, they have to depend on each other and believe in what they know. Will that be enough to lead them to the lost treasure of the Mayans and the Golden Monkey?

Wow! I’ll tell you that this book was definitely worth the wait. In Book 3, the danger had been cranked up for the Crypto-Capers. In the conclusion to this mystery, they get more than they bargained for. The Panther is closing in, Morris is in danger, and their new friend Emmanuel might be an important piece of the puzzle.

In addition to Max, Mia and Granny Holmes, the fourth member of the team, Morris, joins them in the field.  This is unusual, and the reader can see this as a bit of growth in this character. Speaking of growth, I’m glad to see the cover artist doesn’t forget that the kids are growing as the series moves along. All the kids seem a bit older on the cover now.

We are also treated to meeting some new characters in The Chest of Mystery. Their relationships add a new element to the story, and keep the series fresh, just like adding pieces to the unfolding mystery does. The reader will also discover why she needs to hold onto the first three books in this series, as she will refer to them for help in solving the puzzles in Book 4.

Author Renee Hand has won awards for her writing. It’s truly no surprise to me. She delivers consistently well-written, engaging stories. I am always eagerly awaiting her next book.  The interactive element of The Crypto-Capers series will have even the most reluctant readers solving crimes with the team.  These are books you don’t want to miss!

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.
  • ISBN-10:0878393943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878393947
  • SRP:  $12.95



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The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut & Biscuit Bill, Case #1: The Great Pie Catastrophe by Renee Hand

Renee Hand, the creative mastermind behind The Crypto-Capers, has just released the first book in her new children’s detective series, The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut & Biscuit Bill. This series, which is aimed at children in early elementary grades, is about animal detectives Joe-Joe Nut (squirrel) and Biscuit Bill (duck), who solve crimes in Acorn Valley. 

In Case #1: The Great Pie Catastrophe, Miss Cluck’s Blueberry Pie that she planned to enter into a contest at the 42nd Annual Pie Festival has been stolen. Joe-Joe and Nut and Biscuit Bill are called in to investigate and the hunt soon begins as they follow different sets of animal tracks to uncover clues. Will Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill find the culprit before the judging begins?

I was so excited to receive this book in the mail. I’m a big fan of The Crypto-Capers, so I had high hopes for Hand’s new series. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Young readers are encouraged to use their deduction and reasoning skills to solve the crime alongside the two detectives. They are immediately drawn in by the storyline and the book’s quirky characters.

As with human detectives who work alongside each other, Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill talk about things other than the case, like Joe-Joe Nut’s inability to cook. Moments like these bring humor to the story and make these characters fun to follow around.

While I love the front cover on this book, I think the back cover is even better, with the potential suspects lined up against a wall as if they were in a police line-up. Also included are some animal facts and a quick quiz that asks readers to identify which animal the tracks on page 41 belong to.

If the rest of the books in this series are as fun and educational as The Great Pie Catastrophe, the author will have another winning series on her hands. I can’t wait for Book 2!

Readers can visit the Joe-Joe Nut Series portion of the author’s website for some free coloring pages.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:  North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.
  • ISBN-10:  0-87839-351-X
  • ISBN-13:  978-0-87839-351-0
  • SRP:  $9.95*

* Also available in a Kindle edition.



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The Crypto-Capers in The Legend of the Golden Monkey by Renee Hand

The Legend of the Golden MonkeyThe Crypto-Capers are back with a new adventure, a new mystery to solve, and some new friends in  The Legend of the Golden Monkey.

Max, Mia, and Nellie “Granny” Holmes travel to the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza, which was once a flourishing Mayan city filled with secrets. Now in the midst of a treasure hunt, the Crypto-Capers must sabotage the Panther’s efforts to find the treasure first. While Morris helps remotely from Max and Mia’s home in England, the Crypto-Capers must depend upon each other and their new friends in order to discover the truth that will locate the items needed to unlock the treasure room and bring closure to an archeologists whose history is tied to the Golden Monkey.

Author Renee Hand has kicked it up a notch in this latest installment of  The Crypto-Capers Series.  Max, Mia and Granny are again pitted against their nemesis, the Panther, to be the first ones to find the items that will solve the mystery of the Golden Monkey. We met the Panther in the second book of this series, The Case of Red Rock Canyon, and we only get a glimpse into how dangerous this person can be. In Book 3, we learn more about the Panther and exactly what lengths he’ll go to, to get what he wants.

In addition to the Panther, Maggie Devereaux is a character that is carried over from the second book, though she plays behind the scene roles.

Hand has done an excellent job of further developing her characters as she continues this series. All the Crypto-Capers are learning more about themselves and each other.  Morris is moving forward with bringing them top-notch technology to help solve the crimes, and the strength and cohesiveness of the team continues to grow. The addition of new characters, while developing those who have been present since the start is flawless. I enjoyed Emmanuel and Spencer–characters created by young fans of The Crypto-Capers Series–and how they become involved in this current mystery. I am glad they will return in the next book.

The cryptograms from this book are slightly more challenging, but even without a key there are enough clues to figure them out, so that this reading experience, like for the other books in this series, is interactive and fun.

The Crypto-Capers Series by Renee Hand includes some of the best and most engaging books for children in grades 4 through 7.  I continue to look forward to the next book in this series. If you decide to purchase a copy of this one, make sure you hold onto it because like all the other Crypto-Caper books, they are tied into each other and you will need them later.

  • Publisher: North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc
  • ISBN-10: 0878393307
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878393305
  • SRP:  $12.95


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    Video Trailer for The Crypto-Capers

    Back when Renee Hand toured with Pump Up Your Book Promotion to discuss her new interactive children’s detective series, The Crypto-Capers, I created a video trailer to help promote these great books.  You’ll find reviews of Book 1 and Book 2 on this blog. 

    You can visit Renee online at her website or check out her new Crypto-Capers blog.  I believe a new Crypto-Capers book is due out sometime in the fall.

    The Crypto-Capers in The Case of the Missing Sock by Renee Hand

    Crypto-Capers cover pic 001What do you get when you cross an accident prone computer genius, an expert puzzle solver, a flamboyant grandmother who loves knitting–even though she’s terrible at it, and a young detective who can solve crimes that stump senior members of Scotland Yard?

    A great new interactive mystery series that your children will love!

    Sibling detectives Max and Mia Holmes reside on Baker Street in London. Along with their Granny Nellie Holmes and their technology wizard best friend, Morris, they make up the Crypto-Capers.

    In Book 1 of this series, The Case of the Missing Sock, the Crypto-Capers travel to Florida, where Mr. Delacomb hires them to locate a stolen antique sock with a specially made pair of Prada sunglasses tucked inside. With new suspects popping up everywhere they turn, the Crypto-Capers must use Max’s great skills at reasoning and deduction, Mia’s ability to solve puzzles, and Morris’s penchant for technology to help them solve the crime. And just in case you think Granny has wandered off for no good reason, you’ll discover her wanderings are usually very productive.

    Before I say anything else, I have to tell you that my daughters–ages 7 and 5–are already bugging me to get done reviewing these books The Crypto-Capers Book 2so that they can have them. I have both Book 1 and Book 2 – The Case of the Red Rock Canyon, and Granny is definitely a favorite character based upon the cover art from Book 2. My girls are starting to make up their own stories without having even read these; so illustrator Alla Dubrovich deserves a huge nod for creating attention-grabbing covers.

    The Case of the Missing Sock actually opens in London, with Max in the middle of something good. I don’t want to destroy the surprise, so I won’t say much more on that, but Hand wastes no time in getting right to the action.

    Then we get to meet the rest of the team and get some backstory on the family. The backstory is trickled in between the current day happenings, so it doesn’t have a chance to take over the storyline or distract the reader. Hand does an excellent job of sharing just the right amount of detail to make the reader feel like he is experiencing everything along with the Crypto-Capers, while not overloading him with unnecessary junk that weighs the story down.

    What I enjoyed most about this book and the plans for other books in the series, is that it gives readers, especially reluctant ones, a reason to pick up a book. By having the reader decipher cryptograms along with the team, The Case of the Missing Sock becomes more than just a book; it becomes an interactive adventure.

    The Crypto-Capers by Renee Hand is one series of children’s books that I plan to keep an eye on!

    Rating:   🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.
  • ISBN-10: 0878393048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878393046
  • SRP:  $12.95 (U.S.)