First Chapter Review: The Wormwood Mysteries: Beyond the Cliff’s Edge by Kimberly Palmucci

This first chapter review is from the middle grade mystery, The Wormwood Mysteries: Beyond the Cliff’s Edge by Kimberly Palmucci. I’ve read Palmucci’s picture books, so she asked me if I wanted to read books 1 and 2 of this series. I am currently reading the first book The Wormwood Mysteries series, Secret of Lake Falls. Beyond the Cliff’s Edge is the second book, which I purchased from Amazon.

BLURB: After being adopted, kitten sisters Mayra and Rosie Wormwood arrive at their fur-ever home and quickly settle in with their new brother and sister, Lucky and Princess. But the kittens have no idea that something else lives in this seemingly cozy house in the middle of the woods—something that only comes out at night.

When several items go missing from the house, and a raccoon disappears from the jagged cliffs in the forest nearby, it’s up to the kittens and their new friends to solve the mystery before time runs out. Will the animals figure out what lies beyond the cliff’s edge? Or will they end up taking a leap of faith to survive?

COVER: Just like the first book in this series, the cover features the outline of animals from the story with the background featuring the setting. These are sharp looking and adorable.

FIRST CHAPTER: Barry is scrounging through the trash cans at the end of the long driveway of a house in the middle of the woods. Hungry, he ran off by himself to find a late night snack. He might end up regretting that decision.

KEEP READING: Definitely. This first chapter sets up the mystery Mayra and Rosie will be investigating and propels the story forward.

Reading Now – The Wormwood Mysteries: Secret of Lake Falls by Kimberly Palmucci

The adoptable pets at Lake Falls Animal Shelter are eagerly awaiting their fur-ever homes, but someone—or something—is chasing those chances away. After a series of potential adopters run screaming from the shelter, the animals know their only hope is to band together to discover the cause of terror in the building.As the weather grows increasingly ominous, so do the suspicions surrounding the mystery. It’s up to kitten sisters Mayra and Rosie Wormwood and their friends in the shelter to chase clues, overcome their fears, and fight for their chance at a happy future. Can the animals solve the mystery before an endless darkness sets upon this quiet countryside shelter? Or has the last adoption already happened at Lake Falls?

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Did the Scooby Gang Need a Backstory?


Thanks to Netflix, I discovered Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. This animated series ran from 2010-2013 and followed the Scooby gang in their hometown of Crystal Cove, known for its history of eerie supernatural events. Trivia on the IMDB states in developing this series that the producers went back to the 1968-69 development art, which included information like the Scooby gang’s ages, their parents, and home and school life that never made it onscreen. While each of the 52 episodes stands alone, there are intra-episode story arcs: like the locket Daphne finds, the mysterious and helpful Mr. E, and the developing romances between Fred and Daphne and Shaggy and Velma.

Admittedly, we see this more and more in the animated TV world. I wonder, however, if the Scooby gang needed a backstory or intra-episode story arcs. Amazingly, all the kids’ parents are super-annoying. Fred’s dad is the mayor of Crystal Cove and has plans Fred Jr. will follow in his footsteps. Daphne’s ultra-rich parents don’t like her hanging around with Fred and the rest of the gang because she needs friends and love interests closer to their social standing. Velma, whose figure and overall looks get an update, has parents preoccupied with their ownership of the Crystal Cove Museum. In the first episode, Shaggy’s parents meet him at the jail where he and his friends are being held after their latest mystery, which winds them up in trouble with the law. They tell Shaggy they are worried about this “mystery phase” and strongly suggest he find new friends.

This all leads me to the episode, “Gatorsburg,” where the Mystery Machine breaks down (well, has it’s engine stolen) and the teens call their parents asking for a lift. Three of the four sets of parents are way too busy to help out, and Shaggy’s parents don’t answer the phone because it is still-life night and the Mrs. is painting a portrait of the Mr. This forces the gang to stay in Gatorsburg overnight and solve another mystery, but doesn’t this make their parents about as useful as the invisible adult characters in Charlie Brown who are so insignificant their words only come out as sounds (want, want, want, wah)?

Different Scooby-Doo adaptations give the characters different backstories, so why bother? In the new movie, Scoob!, Shaggy Rogers meets a talking stray Great Dane, who is hiding from a bicycle cop on the Venice Beach strip, for taking off with a block of lamb from the Greek restaurant. When the officer confronts Shaggy about owning the pup, he asks the boy what the dog’s name is. Looking at his box of snacks and after a bit of back and forth, he tells the officer the dog’s name is Scooby Dooby Doo.

Just like they did when they created the How the Grinch Stole Christmas movie starring Jim Carrey, it appears children and teens like their comic book, story book, and animated characters to have a past and to be able to outwit their parents. I can’t say I am a fan of it. Give me the original versions of these classics that just told the present-day story and ended in half an hour.

What do you think? Should the characters have backstories? Do you like some backstories more than others? Is there a backstory for a favorite character that bugged you?

Haunted Waters and Stolen Secrets by Jerry Jenkins and Chris Fabry

Watch out! The Timberline twins are on the loose. Bryce and Ashley are ATV-riding tweens from Colorado who unearth action-packed mystery and adventure wherever they go. From clearing the name of a local miscreant to thwarting a gold-stealing heist, the twins’ growing faith and the strong example of their parents guide them through even the most life-threatening situations. With the trademark page-turner style used by Jerry Jenkins and Chris Fabry in the Left Behind: The Kids series, these fast-paced books will keep even reluctant readers on the edge of their seats. Readers will definitely be hooked! Perfect for ages 8-12.


A crazy, wild ride from a deserted mining town makes it clear that someone’s after Bryce and Ashley Timberline.

Will they survive long enough to find out who it is?

Published: April 7, 2020
Binding: Softcover
Trim Size: 5.25 x 7.25 in.
Pages: 224
ISBN: 978-1-4964-4938-2

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Bryce and Ashley Timberline wonder what their stepdad is hiding. As they discover more about his past, the twins fear all is not as it seems.

What isn’t their stepdad telling them?

Published: April 7, 2020
Binding: Softcover
Trim Size: 5.25 x 7.25 in.
Pages: 224
ISBN: 978-1-4964-4939-9

Purchase here!

My TBR Pile


Two cousins embark on an exciting mystery to solve the riddle of their grandfather’s will. The boys from diverse backgrounds must work together to overcome natural and cultural obstacles. Can they save the ranch in time?

History, like magic, has a habit of repeating itself

It’s been six months since thirteen-year-old Alyssa McCarthy left magic behind for good. Or so she thought…

Then the enchanted objects that protected her disappear. Now a skeleton named Errol has cursed her with magical powers that keep getting her in trouble. Suddenly strange things are happening with disastrous effects, and if Alyssa can’t remove the magic, she will lose everything she holds dear.

In order to get rid of her unwanted wizardry, Alyssa will have to boost her bravery and confidence and determine who Errol really is. But every time Alyssa uses an enchantment, Errol is one step closer to getting his flesh back and becoming alive, and he will do anything to achieve his goals…even if it means destroying Alyssa’s happiness.

Originally published in 2016 as “Wizardry Goes Wild” and “The Unruly Curse” in 2019, “A Curse of Mayhem” is book two in the exciting and suspenseful “Magical Missions” series.


This exciting entry in Lee & Low’s “Story of” line of chapter-book biographies introduces readers to Robert Smalls, an enslaved steamboat wheelman who commandeered a Confederate boat during the Civil War and escaped with his family, crew, and their families to freedom.

Growing up enslaved in South Carolina, Robert Smalls always dreamed of the moment freedom would be within his grasp. Now that moment was here.

Robert stood proudly at the Planter’s wheel. Only seven miles of water lay between the ship and the chance of freedom in Union territory. With precision and amazing courage, he navigated past the Confederate forts in the harbor and steered the ship toward the safety of the Union fleet. Just one miscalculation would be deadly, but for Robert, his family, and his crewmates, the risk was worth taking.

The Story of Civil War Hero Robert Smalls is the compelling account of the daring escape of Robert Smalls, an enslaved steamboat wheelman who became one of the Civil War’s greatest heroes. His steadfast courage in the face of adversity is an inspiring model for all who attempt to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.

This Chapter Book edition includes black-and-white illustrations as well as sidebars on related subjects, a timeline, a glossary, and recommended reading.

What is in your TBR pile right now?