Friday, June 21, 2024

The Super Berries Scam by Natasha Deen

by Natasha Deen
Illustrated by Mariano Epelbaum
Stone Arch Books
Middle Grade Mystery
74 pages
ages 8 to 12

AUGUST 1st!!!

A young girl uncovers the truth behind an online health fad in this installment of the Cyber Sleuths chapter book series. Dalia Gopie is shorter than all her friends. Then she discovers that her favorite social media influencer is promoting a miracle fruit—one that guarantees to make anyone taller overnight! Is this online fad the real deal, or is the popular influencer selling a tall tale?

With the help of other Cyber Sleuths—a network of mystery-solving kids—and legit online resources, Dalia uncovers the truth about this too-good-to-be-true product. Created in partnership with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), this action-packed chapter book is perfect for young readers and demonstrates valuable media literacy skills. Books in This Series: The Lip-Sync Scandal, The Sasquatch Suspect, The Sham City of Atlantis, The Super Berries Scam



Online promises of amazing products are exposed for potential lies in a read with fun characters and quick pacing.

Dalia is sick of being the smallest in her group of friends, especially since middle school is only a few weeks away, and she's the only one who hasn't seemed to get her growing spirt. She's ready to try about anything to no longer be seen as the smallest member. So when one of her favorite online influencers shares information about a miracle fruit, which can make people grow inches over night, Dalia has to have some. Of course, they're expensive, and they taste awful, but these fruits are the answer to her wish. Even when her friends and family don't seem to understand, she isn't going to give up...and she might just be taking things a little overboard, too.

Right away, readers meet Dalia as she tries to push down her anger after being teased by her friends for being the shortest in the group. Their intentions aren't mean...just the normal poking friends do...but this time, she can't push off the frustration. Her attitude is understandable, and readers will be able to sympathize with her situation. After all, everyone has things which they wish they could change about themselves, especially when it makes them stick out a little. Her excitement at seeing a 'solution' offered by someone she enjoys watching on the internet is also understandable, and the author takes this aspect on with care. Little by little the lie breaks down, exposing the deception bit by bit. It's well laid out in an easy-to-follow manner and brings the message home.

Dalia and the other characters come across realistically. They are friendly and kind, but not perfect. The relationships are warming and flow at a nice pace along with the plot. There's drama, rough moments, a little humor, and emotional twists. Add the mystery, and there are even surprises to keep the pages turning.  

This series is aimed at those who have a good grasp on their words but aren't ready to dive into more difficult reads quite yet. I'd recommend this one to the lower end of the middle grade level if not upper chapter books. The illustrations are well done and accompany the text nicely. Along with the larger font and short chapters, it creates an easy read for the intended audience.

I look forward to diving into the other books in the series and see what adventures the friends will face next.

No comments: