Tan Callahan, sneaky sleuth extraordinaire, is back on the job when some suspiciously unusual occurrences around the town grab her attention. What’s happening to the stone animals – ‘stonies’ – in Peppercorn Valley? Why do they keep disappearing – or moving? Who is the stonie thief and what is their motive? Just as well Tan has her two best friends on the case to assist. Molly is visiting from the city for a whole month, and after Tan assures Gloria there is no book written that says you can’t have two best friends, the three immerse themselves in detective work and World Headquarters becomes a hotbed of investigation.
The third in the Truly Tan series, this book is a delight to read and girls in middle primary school will have trouble putting it down. Tan is a charismatic character, immediately likeable, who has a joie-de-vie that is refreshing and attractive. Her spark and vivacity are endearing. She’s positive, pragmatic and blithely unaware of enough undercurrent goings-on to make her character entirely believable. Jen Storer, on a number of occasions, cleverly positions the reader to know more than Tan and sometimes her counterparts, which works a treat in terms of engagement and empathy. Seasoned with humour, the text is splendidly crafted, and the ‘Dear Diary’, list and word-explanation segments add contrast and variety, working to invite the reader for a closer look into Tan’s world. Claire Robertson’s illustrations add warmth and appeal and are a great match for the text.
Truly Tan Spooked! is a winner – heart-warming, jaunty and a joy to read.
Harper Collins, 2013
(A version of this review appears in Magpies Vol 29, Issue 1, March 2014)