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Mysteries of Trash and Treasure: The Secret Letters

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Member Reviews

This one came together in a subtle, unexpected way that really appealed to me. It has the same feel as something I loved from years ago by Elise Broach called The Shakespeare Secret, and it will have that same lasting appeal if enough readers give it a chance. It's got enough surprising twists and clues to follow to keep the reader tantalized right through to the end, and the family rivalry provides just enough of a side plot to keep a reader transfixed throughout. Nicely done.

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A great introduction to some pop culture history while hitting on several current-day topics. The plot tended to move at a slower pace than most middle grade reads, but would serve as a great discussion starter. I received the audiobook as an ARC from Netgalley.

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Two likable young protagonists have parents who are rivals in the "garbage" or upcycling business. As they help their families they meet each other and discover some intriguing old letters. Tracking down the story behind the letters brings them on a long, complex journey of local history and their own families' pasts. The story is complex but never spins out of control and all the convoluted threads are tied up neatly in the end.

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What a fun book! Colin and Neveah are each working for their parents for the summer. Colin's mom Felicia is a minimalist -- helping people clear out the clutter. Neveah's family is in the junk business. Her father calls himself The Junk King. They specialize in upcycling. The two businesses consider themselves to be competitors. But are they really? A box of letters found under an attic board draws Colin back into the 70's through the eyes of a boy named Toby. When he tells Neveah about his find, they hunt for the letters that his local penpal Rosemary might have kept. Their experiences with the letters turn this book into a 70's time capsule. Why did the letters stop? What happened to Toby and Rosemary? Colin and Neveah are determined to find some answers. Could their partnership lead to a better relationship between the two businesses? Topics like the Bicentennial, pet rocks, ERA, Pong, and current TV shows took me back to my childhood. For kids of this century, it will be a window into the past and Margaret Peterson Haddix adds some notes at the end to elaborate on 70's events and pop culture. Informative and entertaining. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next in this series.

Thank you to Harper Audio and NetGalley for an audio ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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A lovely book about friendship and family, with historical pieces and a mystery to be solved. This book is paced well, moving quick enough to keep your interest but not so quick that you lose any of the story. I enjoyed the cast of characters and think many middle grade readers will too. Looking forward to more books on this series.

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I really loved this book. Both protagonists were kids I wanted to root for. I enjoyed the shifting narration, and how the story more or less continually flowed through their different perspectives rather than stopping in one area and picking up in another. I also really liked how the author made Colin and Nevaeh’s family structures opposite: Colin from the only-child, single-parent, orderly and tidy household and Nevaeh from the boisterous and chaotic 5-child household. It helped to highlight how the differences in their upbringings contributed to their worldview, but also to show that they themselves, weren’t very different. The mystery aspect of the book was intriguing, and I loved how the various storylines and secrets came together in the end. I am happy this is the beginning of a series, because I am looking forward to reading more of Colin and Nevaeh’s adventures.

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Very fun, clever, and twisty mystery with lots of friend and family drama. This fast-paced story kept me guessing right until the very end. I kept thinking I had it solved, only to be thrown another twist. I loved the friendship between the two protagonists even though their families were business enemies. The audiobook was an enjoyable way to experience this book because of the well-narrated POVs. I am not usually a lover of narrated books, but this one held my attention really well.

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Thank you to #NetGalley, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and the publisher for eARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Colin and Nevaeh's parents own rival junk-removal businesses. Each find a box of old letters at separate sights and learn how someone's trash can truly be someone else's treasure. These letters belonged to best friends Rosemary and Toby that date back to the 1970s. Can Colin and Nevaeh put their parents' rivalry aside to solve the mystery of these friends or will their friendship be as in jeopardy as the friends in the letters?

This book kept me on the edge of my seat with all the twists and turns! I like how Colin and Nevaeh couldn't care less about their parents' rivalry and were able to work together to solve the mystery of the letters. Even if it wasn't east at times. I think this will be a good book for middle grade readers who also may struggle and work through different friendships. I look forward to buying a copy of this book for my classroom.

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I had two hours left and I thought the mystery had been solved. Surely, it had. But to unravel it fully was so much more satisfying. I loved the layers. I never saw any of the layers coming. All of the foreshadowing you thought you were getting? Yeah, it wasn’t. Which I LOVED. I thought this was so clever! And it reminded me a little bit of Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth, which is one of my ABSOLUTE favorites.

I’m DEFINITELY looking forward to the next one now! And I'll be adding this to my school's titlewave FOR SURE.

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What a cool and unique middle grade book series! Colin and Nevaeh are the children of business rivals in the junk-removal industry, but form an unexpected alliance and friendship as they search for the owners of some mysterious letters found in an attic.
Colin's mother is an extreme minimalist and her goal is to help people get rid of all their unnecessary possessions. Secretly, Colin loves old things, and especially likes to take interesting pictures of them. Forced to help his mom clean out houses during the summer, he discovers a box of letters written to a girl named Rosemary from her best friend Toby, nearly 50 years ago. After sneaking the box home and reading the letters, Colin is determined to try to find the other half of the story, the letters that Rosemary wrote to Toby - letters that ended with a mysterious fight.
Neveah is the youngest child of the Junk King, who buys and resells old items. She has grown up surrounded by "junk: and hates it, but is pressed into helping the family business. She encounters Colin during his search for Toby, and they begin covertly working together, using the public library and the internet to find Toby and Rosemary - at first just out of curiosity, but then to discover how they were linked to a bigger mystery of an empty storage unit.
I loved the look back at the "women's lib" movement, and the way the stories all weave together into the present day. I also really enjoyed the context of the junk removal businesses, and the ways that we view our "stuff." This promises to be an interesting series!

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New York Times bestseller Margaret Peterson Haddix is one of my favorite authors and this new book lived up to her talent for engaging readers. As a seventies child,myself, I really enjoyed reading the references to my decade from the beginning to the conclusion of the afterword.

Colin and Nevaeh, have parents who own rival junk-removal businesses. The children are not the proudest of their families’ business. As they become involved in helping one summer, they uncover mysteries hidden in attics and basements and discover how trash can become treasure. One day Colin and Nevaeh become intrigued by a box of vintage letters that lead to interlocking mysteries from the 1970s and ‘80s. They begin a world opening up the issues of yesterday and sadly in some ways still exist in the 21st century… “women’s lib,” the ERA, and other social issues from that time in history.

Junk remover’s mantra is to dispose, not keep so when Colin finds a shoebox full of letters hidden in a stranger’s attic, he knows he’s supposed to throw them away. That’s his summer job, getting rid of junk. But Colin wants to rescue the letters, and find out what really happened to best friends Rosemary and Toby way back in the 1970s as laid out in the forgotten art of letter writing.

Meanwhile, across town, Nevaeh also finds a mysterious letter. But this one reads like a confession to a crime. And Nevaeh knows her father, the “Junk King,” expects her to join the rest of the family in blaming a single suspect: his business rival, Colin’s mom.
But that’s not what Nevaeh wants.

The set of letters bring Colin and Nevaeh together, in an intricate and intriguing mystery.

This is Margaret Peterson Haddix first installment in the series of The Mysteries of Trash and Treasure. The series will examine a different time period in history in each book and make readers think about how we value the stuff we hold on to, and what it is that makes it valuable.

Haddix is talented at giving Colin and Nevaeh different voices as they work together to solve mysteries they run across while helping their semi-feuding families in their respective junk removal businesses while also learning history in a fun, new way. I'm so happy to offer this new Haddix series to pre-teen readers.

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Such a great middle grade mystery. I am a huge Margaret Peterson Haddix fan and this book is not as intense as some of her usual ones. It's perfect for 3rd-5th graders.

I love the friendship that builds between Nevaeh and Colin. And I'm always down for tracking-down-people-who-used-to-live-in-this-house adventures.

Loved everything about it and I'm always thrilled to have another Haddix book in the world.

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A great new series for middle school readers. I personally lived the unconventional family dynamics of the two main characters, Colin and Neveah. Many students can relate to strong single moms or having siblings who are 10 years older than them. The premise of finding a lost box of letters and playing detective would hook a reader easily. The delving into the past made this an enjoyable read for me but also ties in with the resurgence of pop culture from the past seen in today’s media offerings.

Haddock is a well-liked author in our library, but the cover art work is the biggest downfall. A redesign would give it more shelf appeal. I can see students being interested if it was book talked or recommended, but I don’t see this as a book many would pick up based on the cover alone. Nevertheless, I would happily buy this for our school because the premise, life lessons, and promise of more books to come make the series a winner.

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The Secret Letters was a good middle school novel that related past and current events really well. I enjoyed the fun narration of the two characters and felt it matched their personalities. I was kept curious during the story and was interested in how it was going to end. I liked the mystery a lot.

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This was a delightful start to a new series for middle-grade readers! So many mysteries to draw you in - about families, about hidden letters, and about an empty storage unit. Haddix is great at giving Colin and Nevaeh different voices and they work together great to solve all of the mysteries that they run across while helping their semi-feuding families in their respective junk removal businesses for the summer while also learning about history in a fun, new way. I'm so happy to have the start of a new Haddix series to recommend to pre-teens!

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I received this audiobook from Netgalley and Harper Audio in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 Stars Rounded to 5!

I wasn't expecting to love this book! I remember never being able to get into the writing of Peterson Haddix's Shadow Children series as a child and I've held a, perhaps unfair, judgement against her writing since then. (My apologies for my tastes as an 8 year old, I believe I'm probably overdue for another attempt at reading the series). That said, I really loved Mysteries of Trash and Treasure: The Secret Letters and highly recommend it for kids who enjoy mysteries and in particular those who enjoyed Moon Over Manifest as this serves very similar story structure and characters, but in a modern setting.

The book follows two children of rival junkers/ organizers who, as children of rivals are want to do, develop a friendship. Over the course of a summer the two soon to be middle schoolers find two boxes of letters from friends like them under the floorboards of homes that their families cleaned out. They work together to learn about what life was like for the two 12 year olds in the 1970s and toward the goal of eventually learning what happened to the pair.

Beware! Below there be spoilers:

What I Loved:

-The narration. I received this as an audio ARC and I have to say I really loved the narrators, they had great voices for the characters and it made the story even easier to follow!

-The family bonds displayed. There's really nothing better than seeing a diverse variety of family structures in a children's book. Nevaeh's family's loud and all encompassing love felt familiar to me in ways that caused me to love them immediately, and by offsetting that with the quieter more organized affection between Collin and his single mother felt right.

-The historical elements. When I talk to kids about the 90's and 00's they really struggle to imagine life before smart phones and tiktok. By setting kids like them in a situation where they have to learn about the 70's and it's politics, social norms, pop culture and more was a great way to structure teaching the reader about the time period. The author's additional explanations at the end were also great! With many kids having grandparents and adults in their lives who were children of the 70's, I hope this book encourages conversation about the past!

-The digestible feminism. This book shows kids just how recently it was that women could not own their own property or bank independently and displays the attitudes towards woman's rights that still exist today that are fairly unchanged from the way they were in the 70's. This book is a great reminder to kids that we have a way to go before men and women are equal, but does so in a way that isn't hitting the reader over the head with it.

What I Didn't Love:

-The sibling dynamic between Prilla and Nevaeh sometimes felt a little off. I think Prilla was a little too self aware as an older sister (apologizing almost right away to Nevaeh for picking on her about boys) and sometimes she seemed to be younger than she was written to be (the sharing of things in her very messy room felt like something sisters closer in age would do). It took me until she was talking about college to realize that she was in high school and while that sorted out some of the maturity she was demonstrating it still all felt a little off. That could just be because I grew up with a different sibling dynamic, but at any rate it was a small issue.

-The cover. I'm going to have a hard time getting kids to grab this off the shelf without prompting. I think once they start reading they'll be hooked, but the cover could use some help in getting them to open it up to that first page.

Overall I highly recommend the book. I already know who I'm planning on handing it to once it is released.

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I quite liked this story. I liked how the characters were built up. I would totally expect that my students would like to read this book.

However, I really don't like the cover art. I feel my students would not pick up this book based on the cover and would miss a great story. This book is great for grade 3-5's.

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This was a really fun mystery about family, unlikely friendships, and the power that secrets and misconceptions can have over us. The two main characters, Colin and Nevaeh, come from rival families who both have similar business operated in different ways.

One day, Colin finds an old box of letters in the attic of a house his mom is helping to clean out. Through these old letters, he gets a glimpse into the life of a girl who lived in the seventies and starts to wonder about her life and the life of her best friend that she was writing to.

This book drama with a lot of complicated issues in a way that is relevant to the intended audience. Overall this was a great book and a fantastic start to a new series.

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Margaret Peterson Haddix is one of my favorite authors. This book is different than her other books, but just as good. I loved the direction it took and the story told. I loved the friendship the held the story together. I am looking forward to the continuation of this series.

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Excellent listen! I'm very glad to have gotten the opportunity to read this one through netgalley. Peterson Haddix is a master of character and storyline. No Trash and only treasure is what we find here. The story was enough of a mystery to delight and a fun way to bring in so many cultural references. Enjoyed it thoroughly!

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