Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kid Konnection: The Spaghetti Detectives by Andreas Steinhofel

The Spaghetti Detectives by Andreas Steinhofel
Chicken House (Scholastic)
ISBN: 978-0545289757
Publication: July 2011
Hardcover, 176 pages

Unusual. Different. Not quite what we expected. With eyebrow-raising characters and brutally honest situations and dialogue, this book held our interest in unexpected ways. I initially thought this book suitable for my 7 year-old son but its mature themes were more fitting for my 10 year-old daughter who didn't expect to like it.

What captured our attention right from the beginning is that Rico, an odd boy with mild learning disabilities, who thinks a lot but needs time to figure things out (considered dim-witted by some) is the main character who tells the story from his point-of-view. And it is his “oddity” that lends him a captivating voice throughout the story without losing his perspective as a middle-grader.

Rico lives with his young mother (his father passed away) in an apartment building in Berlin inhabited by an eclectic group of people. She is a single parent, works in a nightclub, and sleeps during the day. It's clear she loves Rico but he is often left alone or hangs around with his neighbour Mrs Darling. He has no friends until he meets Oscar, a 7 year-old genius who constantly wears a blue crash helmet. He has a fear of dying in an accident. He quotes statistics and hard-to-remember facts. He and Rico build a friendship and end up solving the case of a child kidnapper.

This aspect of the story was suspenseful and a little scary. As parents we warn our children not to talk to strangers. Our greatest fear is the loss of a child through kidnapping. So I took the time to talk to my daughter about this topic, since I remember the horror that one of my colleagues lived through when her teenage daughter was kidnapped. Which is why I was taken aback when one of the characters, Mrs Darling, openly voiced to Rico that she wished the kidnapper would take the brats that lived in the apartment above them! I made sure my daughter understood that sometimes people say things that are wrong and they may not mean it.

Overall though, I felt his book explored the human need to build friendships, to be loved and understood, and the view that even if we are different (slightly autistic or overly smart) we can all do our part for a better whole. At times funny, sometimes sad and a few times scary, this book kept my daughter and I alert and thoughtful. It's a story that leaves you thinking about it long after it's been read. Translated from German to English and winner of the prestigious German Youth Literature Prize in 2009, this book is unlike any we've read before.

I will count this book toward the following challenges: Middle Grade Book Challenge and TwentyEleven Challenge

Disclosure: Thanks to Nikole Kritikos from Scholastic Canada for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Every Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection—a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, visit Booking Mama.

Share this:


  1. Sounds like this book explore so many discussion worthy topics. I think I have it around somewhere. Now I need to move it up on my towering TBR pile!


Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your feedback.

Visit Us Today

Visit Us Today
iRead: getting your book in the hands of readers
Back To Top
Copyright © 2009-2017 Laura Fabiani Library of Clean Reads . Designed by OddThemes OddThemes