April 9, 2014

[Book Review] White House White-out (A to Z Mysteries: Super Edition, #3) by Ron Roy


It's a snowy December in Washington, D.C., and Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose are there to see the sights. While they're admiring the White House, they meet the president's stepdaughter, KC, and her friend Marshall. Soon, in the confusion caused by all the people decorating the White House for Christmas, the president's dog, Natasha, goes missing! The kids set out to find her, but it's not going to be easy. The area is still crowded with decorations, it's getting dark, and all five of them risk getting caught in a monster snowstorm.



White House White-Out is the third A to Z Mysteries Super Edition, and it's the first and only installment of the series to cross over with another. In this Christmas- and D.C.-set mystery, Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose of the A to Z Mysteries series happen to meet KC Corcoran and Marshall Li of Ron Roy's other series, Capitol Mysteries. And, of course, the five kids team up to solve a mystery.

As usual, the book stretches suspension of disbelief in certain areas. First and foremost, the book opens with these three elementary schoolchildren wandering the streets of the district. As someone who's been there more than a few times, having grown up in Maryland, I'm rather horrified that these Connecticut suburbanites are allowed to wander around the National Mall by themselves without any supervision whatsoever. Every time I've been there, it's been extremely busy with who knows how many people, and I certainly wouldn't take it for granted that my nine- or ten-year-old child would be wise enough to avoid both getting hit by the many cars darting around and any people who may be less than trustworthy. It really threw me seeing these kids roam the city as if no one else was there. I don't believe I've ever been in the district during Christmastime, but I imagine the tourism and general business only gets exponentially worse. So while I'm alright with these kids wandering 50s-esque Green Lawn... I ain't buying D.C.

Secondly, these kids waltz right up to the White House fence and befriend KC, Marshall, and their dog, who immediately invite them inside the grounds and building. No background checks. Just "special passes". Suuuurrre. I'd like to see someone waltz up to Malia Ann, Sasha, Bo, and/or Sunny and try to pull that one off. Somehow, I don't think they'd have quite as much luck as the Green Lawn gang.

Anyway, the kids invariably find themselves entangled in mystery and crime when they stumble into a dog-napping that snowballs into a group kidnapping, ransom attempt, and car accident in the middle of a Virginia blizzard--which, with the kids being from Connecticut and all, you'd think they'd be just a bit less intimidated by. The snow, I mean. Not the crime.

Though, considering how often they're kidnapped or imprisoned... you'd think they wouldn't be afraid of that, either.

All in all, it's a solid mystery, as are all the A to Z titles. And I definitely think it accomplishes what I assume it was meant to do--that being to persuade fans of A to Z Mysteries and Capitol Mysteries to take a look at the other series involved, if they haven't already. It worked on me, at the very least; after reading White House White-Out for the first time (this is my second), I moved on to the Capitol Mysteries (which I'll soon be partially rereading). The one thing it kind of makes me mourn for is John Steven Gurney's lack of involvement in the Capitol Mysteries series; Timothy Bush's illustrations just don't appeal to me the way Gurney's do, and seeing Gurney's stylistic adaptation of KC and Marshall makes me pine a bit for what could have been. Alas.

If you're a fan of Capitol Mysteries and haven't picked up any of the Green Lawn books yet (A to Z Mysteries, A to Z Mysteries Super Editions, Calendar Mysteries), then I definitely recommend this as your first introduction to the series. In my opinion--and admitting that I may be looking through a bit of a nostalgia filter--A to Z Mysteries is the superior series, so if you like that one... well, I think you'll love this one.

But if you don't... that's cool, too.

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