Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe
Author: Tricia Springstubb
Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler
Published April 12th, 2016 by Candlewick Press
Goodreads Summary: Not everything turns out to be as it first appears when Cody and her best friend, Spencer, navigate a neighborhood mystery and the start of a new school year.
Cody’s best friend, Spencer, and his parents are moving in with his grandmother right around the corner, and Cody can’t wait. For one thing, Cody needs Spencer to help solve the mystery of the never-seen Mr. Meen, who lives on the other side of the porch with a skull-and-crossbones sign in the window and an extermination truck out front. How’s Cody to know that a yellow jacket would sting her, making her scream “Ow! Ow!” just as they start spying? Or that the ominous window sign would change overnight to “Welcome home,” only deepening the mystery? In this second adventure, Spencer’s new-school jitters, an unexpected bonding with a teacher over Mozart, and turf-claiming kids next door with a reason for acting out are all part of Cody’s experiences as summer shifts into a new year at school.
My Review: I loved this one as much as the first one. (P.S. You don’t have to read the first one to enjoy this one, but they are both so good you should read both.) What I love most about the books is that Cody and Spencer and their families and the secondary characters are just so flawed and familiar and real. What I love second most about the book is how Tricia Springstubb writes. It is lyrical yet to the point. Beautiful yet not fluffy. See my example below. What I love third most about the book is the humor. Cody is one funny young lady!
Cody’s story this time revolves around two things: Spencer moving nearby and things not going as expected and the mystery behind the Meens, the bullying girls who live next to Spencer. Springstubb navigates both of these topics (bullying and friendship) with ease along with other minor topics like family and identity which makes Cody’s story perfect for all young readers because they will either relate or be able to use the story to help them in the future.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Cody’s story represents so many different types of people: different races, different families, different situations, different popularity, different talents, etc., so her stories are perfect for reading aloud to a class/child.
It could also be used as a mentor text for language during a writing workshop’s narrative unit.
Discussion Questions: What does Cody mean by the baton of love?; Is it ever okay to fight?; Why does Payton’s behavior affect Wyatt so much?; How did Cody expect Spencer being at her school to be? How did it end up?
Flagged Passages: “He [Spencer] was getting ready to practice his violin. Mom and Cody sat down to listen. The song he played was called ‘Go Tell Aunt Rhody.’ The music was complicated. Was it sad? Was it happy? Could it be both at the same time? Cody decided it was perfect night-before-school music. All the while he played, her hand un-itched.” (p. 32)
Read This If You Loved: Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb, The Trouble with Ants by Claudia Mills, Marty McGuire series by Kate Messner, Eleanor series by Julie Sternberg, Lola series by Christine Pakkala, The Top-Secret Diary of Cecile Valentine by Julie Sternberg