Monday, April 20, 2009

WITS Podcast on Friday Will Feature a Teen Sleuth and Her Bird Sidekick

Join the Writers in the Sky podcast later this week when team member Sarah Moore will interview author M. Carol Coffey about her new book Zoe Lucky and the Green Gables' Mystery. Zoe has recently moved into a new apartment with her mother and quickly meets an interesting cast of characters. She also becomes suspicious of some of the mysterious activities that begin to happen around her. With the assistance of her pet bird Paki, her young crush, and other accomplices, Zoe becomes an impressive teenage sleuth.

Throughout the novel, Coffey shares with the readers her love for birds by making the animals' personalities an integral part of the story's plot. Coffey also pays homage to her hometown of Pittsburgh with descriptions of many of the landmarks and neighborhoods of the city.

Carol Coffey has written a monthly column while serving as Editor for Pittsburgh Women's Magazine and has previously published two works of non-fiction. She is a bird lover, and therefore is an active member with Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Audubon Society, and the National Wildlife Federation. Carol has been a public speaker for twenty years. She also has entertained and sang professionally and been a guest on radio and TV programs.

Click here to purchase Zoe Lucky and the Green Gables' Mystery.

Title of Document: Book Review
Book Title: Zoe Lucky and the Green Gables’ Mystery
Author: M. Carol Coffey
ISBN Number: 978-1-4327-3190-8
Genre and Target Market: fiction; mystery; teen
Publication Date: 2009
Book Length in Pages: 148
When I was in elementary school, I formed a kids’ detective agency with a couple of close friends. After the other students had gone home, we would revisit the ground on which we had all enjoyed recess just a few hours before. We searched through the sand for artifacts, read the graffiti on the brick walls, and created probing questions that only we could answer. When I took to my room in the evening, the Nancy Drew mysteries and Choose Your Own Adventure books were always among my favorite reading choices. I supposed I enjoyed the idea of a young hero, particularly a female one, solving a crime that had stumped even the most experienced adults. Therefore, I am excited to have discovered a young modern-day heroine by the name of Zoe Lucky. She is the creation of author M. Carol Coffey and in her new book, Zoe Lucky and the Green Gables’ Mystery, she carries on the tradition of Nancy Drew fans and playground sleuths everywhere. Except, in Zoe’s case, the crimes and the consequences are much more serious.

Zoe is a thirteen-year-old girl who recently moved to a new apartment with her mom following the tragic death of her father, a police officer who was shot in the line of duty. Zoe doesn’t even have time to adjust to her surroundings before she finds herself amongst a cast of fascinating characters, some of whom with motives more sinister than they first seem. As the story unfolds, Zoe befriends a wise neighbor, draws close in puppy love to the cute boy from the pet shop, and finds herself in a position to uncover crimes ranging from burglary to arson to murder. Although the mystery that develops is frightening and quite serious, the author always manages to keep the perspective of a young teenage girl in her writing. Zoe is a girl who pieces together her clues through skilled work on her Blackberry and by the art of instant messaging … she is smart and prepared to unlock criminal mysteries with a uniquely adolescent and 21st century style.

One of the most engaging aspects of this new novel is the great importance of birds to the development of Coffey’s storyline. Zoe’s pet African Gray parrot, Paki, specifically and all feathered friends in general play pivotal roles in ways that the humans involved in the situation could never manage. Paki is able to sense the true character of people who walk into the Luckys’ apartment and tries to warn his young friend through less-than-subtle name calling. The crows that congregate outside of Zoe’s apartment building maintain a long memory concerning those who have harmed them, and use their great abilities as guides to lead authorities to the man who had been the sources of so many wide-awake nightmares for Zoe and her family. With this aspect of the book, the author beautifully incorporates her love for birds and other animals. Coffey is a member of the Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation, and her knowledge of animals and their capabilities adds a unique dynamic that readers will not find in other books of this genre.

The fast-paced format and starring cast of characters in Zoe Lucky and the Green Gables Mystery come together to create a book that will be a popular choice in the Young Adult section of the bookstore. M. Carol Coffey does a magnificent job in appealing to an age group of readers who we all know can be difficult to please, but who are the most loyal fans once a relationship is established. I certainly can see Zoe Lucky emerging as a favorite heroine of young girls everywhere. However, I think this book will rightfully find an audience in readers of all ages. Coffey’s writing is smart and complex without being painfully obvious about the process. She slowly reveals details about her characters that will keep readers turning the page to discover more. Also a talented illustrator, Coffey adds sketches throughout the book which add a great visual element. Her ability to create suspense will have readers guessing and perhaps sitting with their mouths dropped open in shock (as mine did) as the story reaches its climax and reveals some amazing twists. M. Carol Coffey has promised that more adventures are in store for Zoe Lucky, and I am looking forward to reading them with my daughter. Perhaps she will be inspired by Zoe to set upon her own mystery adventure, just as I was prompted by Nancy Drew!

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