Faithgirlz! Samantha Sanderson Book 1: At the Movies, by Robin Caroll
Sam Sanderson is a budding reporter who is looking to become and award-winning journalist just like her mother. When an explosive device is found at the local theater, Sam gets the lead on this developing and controversial story---controversial because the movie theater has recently come under attack by a renowned, outspoken atheist for allowing a local church to show Christian movies. Sam's dad is heading up the investigation and Sam can't resist doing a little sleuthing of her own . . . but when her theories are printed in the school paper, she lands in big trouble---and danger! Recommended for ages 8 to 12.
Gr 5–7—Seventh-grader Samantha Sanderson dreams of becoming an award-winning journalist just like her mom. She hopes that being a reporter for the middle school newspaper will lead to bigger and brighter things down the road. In At the Movies, Sam catches a big break when she and her computer whiz friend, Makayla, unwittingly discover a bomb set to go off at the local movie theater the next day during the showing of a controversial Christian film. Sam's dad, a police detective, is assigned to the case, and Sam is certain that he'll feed her insider information to help her write her article and blog posts. Sam's articles make a splash, but not necessarily in the way she wants. The second book, On the Scene, finds Sam and Makayla investigating a case of bullying that involves mysterious notes and packages. This Christian fiction mystery series aimed at tweens delivers a mostly realistic main character, with a supportive family, and a strong faith in God. The scenes at Sam and Makayla's church are thoughtful, and could invite some good discussion, yet manage to avoid being preachy. Sam's faith is part of her life, but at no time does it overshadow other aspects of her personality. Despite the fact that Sam's middle school sometimes seems more like a high school, the trials of the middle school years are well captured. Recommend for libraries where Christian fiction is in demand.—Heather Webb, Worthington Libraries, OH
Sam, an evangelical seventh-grader in Little Rock, shows both intelligence and spunk as she investigates local mysteries. With a police detective for a father and an investigative reporter for a mother, Sam knows the importance of asking uncomfortable questions and making careful observations. In this series opener, Sam and her best friend, Makayla, literally stumble onto a bomb planted in a movie theater that had recently come under attack by a group of atheists. Sam thinks this is the perfect story to boost her school-newspaper career and eagerly pursues the investigation, while Makayla tries to remind Sam to be more patient—advice that Sam doesn’t always heed, leading to hurt feelings and the threat of a lawsuit. Caroll offers an engaging exploration of Sam’s age-appropriate development from black-and-white thinking to more nuanced understanding of the world. Her faith is an essential part of her character, which makes this series a good choice for young readers of similar background. Published simultaneously with On the Scene, in which Sam investigates a string of bullying attacks. Grades 6-9. --Francisca Goldsmith
Genre/BISAC: Juvenile, Middle Grade, Fiction, Contemporary Realistic, Reporting, Journalism, Mystery, Faith, Ethics, Family, Friendship, Religious-Christian
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