April 10, 2017

MG Book Review and Feature: T.O.A.S.T. Series by James Ponti

Today I'm very excited to feature a new series by an author I really enjoy. 

 The series: T.O.A.S.T. Mysteries

Author: James Ponti

James Ponti wrote the Dead City series - a great middle grade zombie series.  Click for review of Dead City and Blue Moon and look at the Top Ten List I included it on.   

So on to his new series! 

Framed! (Book #1)
Get to know the only kid on the FBI Director’s speed dial and several international criminals’ most wanted lists all because of his Theory of All Small Things in this hilarious start to a brand-new middle grade mystery series.

So you’re only halfway through your homework and the Director of the FBI keeps texting you for help…What do you do? Save your grade? Or save the country?

If you’re Florian Bates, you figure out a way to do both.

Florian is twelve years old and has just moved to Washington. He’s learning his way around using TOAST, which stands for the Theory of All Small Things. It’s a technique he invented to solve life’s little mysteries such as: where to sit on the on the first day of school, or which Chinese restaurant has the best eggrolls.

But when he teaches it to his new friend Margaret, they uncover a mystery that isn’t little. In fact, it’s HUGE, and it involves the National Gallery, the FBI, and a notorious crime syndicate known as EEL.

Can Florian decipher the clues and finish his homework in time to help the FBI solve the case?

Vanished! (Book #2)
Florian Bates—the only kid on the FBI Director’s speed dial and several international criminals’ most wanted lists—must uncover the truth behind a series of middle school pranks that may or may not involve the daughter of the President of the United States in this hilarious second novel in the T.O.A.S.T. Mystery series.

Middle school is hard. Solving cases for the FBI is even harder. Doing both at the same time— well that’s just crazy. But that doesn’t stop Florian Bates!

After helping the FBI solve an art theft at the National Gallery and uncovering a DC spy ring, Florian’s finding life at Alice Deal Middle School a little boring. But that’s all about to change! His FBI handler, Marcus, has a job for him! Is it a bank robbery? Counterfeit ring? International espionage? Actually it’s middle school pranks…

Sounds pretty ordinary except that the pranks are happening at a prestigious private school attended by the President’s daughter who may—or may not—be involved. So Florian and Margaret are going undercover to see if they can use their TOAST skills to figure out what’s going on before the media gets hold of the story.

However, once the crime-solving pair arrive at the school, they discover that there’s a lot more than a few pranks going on and the conspiracy of silence reaches all the way to the top. Then a student vanishes in the middle of a concert at the Kennedy Center and things take a sinister turn!

Can Florian and Margaret save the day? Or a
re they about to get toasted?

Short Answer: Super fun new mystery series that I can't wait to introduce to my student.  

In detail: I was a bit worried going into the first book because I loved the Dead City series so much, but I worried it was more the topic.  Those books have zombies in them (LOVE zombies), so what if I didn't like these as much.  No worries!  I adored these books.  Florian is great.  He's smart and talented at using T.O.A.S.T. (an acronym he came up with).  It stands for Theory of All Small Things, and it allows him to notice small details and put them together to see things others might not.  He's amazing at this, but I love that he's still just a kid in every other way! 

As a middle school student I would've loved these books, because I was completely into mysteries.  And these books are perfect for the young mystery fan.  Lots of twists and turns, hidden clues and great kids helping solve it all!  Oh wait yes I said KIDS as in plural.  As great at Florian is, he's friend Margaret is just as great!  I love her voice of reason.  She has shades of Hermione! And if it wasn't for her, Florian would get himself into even more unwanted situations.  

Over-all well done and great for the middle grade set.  

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