Book of the Week: ‘Naji and the Mystery of the Dig’ by Vahid Imani

Naji andthe mystery of the dig is the highly engaging tale of a day in the life of Naji,an eight year old girl growing up in Persia. Author Vahid Imani has crafted a book which is sure to hold the interest of young readers while offering a rare and enchanting glimpse into the fascinating culture of Persia.  
Children’s Literary Classics

There’s a deep, dark hole in Naji’s yard and it’s full of secrets. But will the girl’s curiosity lead her to answers, or disaster?  

When Naji wakes to a strange sound she discovers a group of workers digging a hole just outside her room. Filled with intrigue, she wonders what they’ll find at the bottom. Sleeping monsters? Skeletons and curses? Her father warns her to stay away. The worksite is no place for a child, and if she isn’t careful, she’ll be snatched up by a Looloo; mythical creatures that lurk in the shadows.

Summoning her courage, Naji decides to investigate—until a terrible event leaves the whole neighborhood panicking. Have the terrifying Looloos struck again? As it turns out, the answer is far more surprising than Naji and her father could ever imagine.  

Based on a true story, this award-winning middle-grade chapter book includes a glossary, study projects, and discussion questions. Join Naji on a suspense-filled exploration of Persian culture and folklore as she learns that sometimes, the best adventures are waiting right under your nose.

Winner of a Gold award in 2015 from The Children’s Literary Classics.
Winner of 2015 Best In Category: Cultural Issues Preteen from The Children’s Literary Classics.
Winner of 2015 Best In Category: Best First Chapter Book from The Children’s Literary Classics.

Find out more about Naji and the Mystery of the Dig at 
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About the Author

Vahid Imani was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, and made the United States his home in 1979. Coming from an old civilization, he is fascinated by ancient cultures and archeology. He earned a master’s degree from Gonzaga University’s School of Business, Spokane Washington, in 1980. An enthusiast of fine art, he has been creating music, poetry and stories since he was seven years old. He is father of three children and grandfather of three (so far). Currently, when he is not dreaming about his next book, he is teaching music and classical guitar to children of all ages.

Reader Reviews: 

Great kids book
A wonderful book! A charming story that introduces readers to the Persian culture. The study guide in the back of the book adds the educational aspect of this mystery novel. I highly recommend this book for every child’s bookshelf. 
Kellie Henkel 5.0 out of 5 stars 
Reviewed in the United States on January 7, 2021


Great book for third grade
I teach third grade. After my students read an opening Reading unit with a couple of tales from Aladdin, this book was a perfect Real Aloud for students after lunch. They really enjoyed the aspect of the ‘mystery’ and the tales of Naji, an eight year old girl from mid 20th century Persia. It was fascinating and culturally rich with wonderful sensory imagery. My students are looking forward to a sequel. I really enjoyed the book myself and it presents a wonderful slice of city life in Tehran 80 years ago.
Gilson 5.0 out of 5 stars 
Reviewed in the United States on December 12, 2020

Book Review: ‘Gone Witching’ Witches of Runesbury Book 1 by Mirren Hogan

The first book in the Witches of Runesbury series featuring Scarlett Oliver, this is an excellent read.

This book offers a fresh and highly original combination of elements that are very popular among readers, yet have been made the author’s own with a unique setting, characters and storyline that are most intriguing and entertaining.

The book is very well written, and hard to put down once started. The narrative develops steadily and delivers some great twists that ensure the story is unpredictable and exciting.

Runesbury is populated by a variety of well-developed and complex character, some of whom the reader is clearly meant to love, and others who are obviously meant to be disliked and distrusted. There are some cleverly tailored red herrings amongst them for good measure, and they certainly help to keep the reader guessing.

All in all, this is a most enjoyable book and I look forward to reading more in the series.

Book Review: ‘Midsummer’s Bottom’ by Darren Dash

When an amateur theatre company reunite for their 20th annual performance of Shakespeare’s’A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, one might expect they’d have their act together.

‘Midsummer’s Bottom’ immerses the reader in the lives of the actors, but also in the lives of the fey characters who are weary of seeing themselves represented in the troupe’s performances.

Like the play being performed, the story is an enjoyable romp through a glade in a forest, complicated by love, jealousy, and fey interference in the lives of humans.

This book is well-written and quite entertaining. The characters are varied and interesting, made complex by their desires and motivations, and intricately connected to both the play and one another’s lives.

Just how the plot will resolve keeps the reader guessing right to the end.

This book is recommended for readers aged 18 and over, as ‘Midsummer’s Bottom’ does contain some adult  content, although not graphic or gratuitous.

Book Review: ‘Of Vultures and Kings’ by William Joseph

‘Of Vultures and Kings’ Is a most enjoyable children’s fantasy book that takes the reader on an adventure into enchanted forests, secretive realms and dangerous, unknown places.

This is a very entertaining story that delivers positive lessons about friendship, loyalty and trust in times of adversity and fear.

A great book for independent readers and for family reading, this book would make a great addition to personal collections and to school and community libraries.

Book Review: ‘Inspector Hobbes and the Gold Diggers’ by Wilkie Martin

The third novel in Wilkie Martin’s Unhuman urban fantasy mystery series is just as entertaining and intriguing as the first and second.

‘Inspector Hobbes and the Gold Diggers’ delivers another riotous mystery story while at the same time taking a more personal turn for both Inspector Hobbes and his sidekick, Andy. 

As always, Martin’s witty writing is highly entertaining and as engaging as the story itself.

This quirky and fun read provides yet another great escape from reality. 

Book Review: ‘Kip and the Grinders’ Hall of Doors Book 2 by Zachary Chopchinski

The sequel to ‘Webley and the World Machine’ in Zachary Chopchinski’s Hall of Doors Steampunk adventure series  is an action-packed, highly entertaining adventure story that features Adal, Arija and their friend Kip, a Dweller of Webley’s World Machine. 

This story is set in Taraveil, another of the worlds that lie beyond the doors in Webley’s Hall of Doors. Once again, Chopchinski’s world building is complex and detailed, full of fascinating technology and diverse, colourful characters. Rich sensory detail adds texture and dimension to the various settings and environments in the book, complementing the action, characters and complications of the story.

Snarky and confident, Adal and Arija meet their matches in Ypsilon and her Grinder compatriots. Through conflict, danger and the formation of unlikely alliances, the integrity and loyalty of each of the central characters is tested as the story progresses.

Just like Adal and Arija, Ypsilon, Sasha, Van and Masa are characters that young adult readers will relate to. They are strong and flawed, passionate and vulnerable, smart mouthed and profoundly loyal to their own.

Chopchinski’s writing is edgy and descriptive, in keeping with the story and the world in which it is set. The story moves at a good pace, keeping the reader and their imagination fully engaged.

‘Kip and the Grinders’ is fast paced, distinctly original steampunk fiction that demands to be finished once started.

Book Review: ‘Footprints In The Sand’ by Pam Lecky

The second in the Lucy Lawrence mystery series, this is a most intriguing story, full of twists and turns, and set in a most exotic location. From Nice to Cairo to Sakkara, the reader is taken on a journey of many discoveries — not all of them archaeological.

The characters are colourful and lively, each with personal motivations and interests that they tend to keep to themselves, adding layers of intrigue to the secrets and mysteries that Lucy finds awaiting her in Egypt.

It is clearly evident and most pleasing that the author has taken care to keep the characters and their actions consistent with the time and places in which the story is set.

The story is well-crafted and written in a style that is very easy to read. The narrative unfolds at a good pace, with enough suspects and red herrings to keep both Lucy and the authorities guessing and to ensure very little predictability. 

Book Review: ‘Autumncrow’ by Cameron Chaney

‘Autumncrow’ is a collection of stories set in the spookiest town in America, telling of its past and some of its quite varied and interesting residents. 

The town of Autumncrow resembles any other small town in many ways, and the people who live there are completely normal people — except, perhaps, for the fact that they acknowledge their monsters and accept their fears more openly than most of us are willing to do. 

The stories are loosely interwoven, ranging from the deeply unsettling to the macabre and horrifying. Each tale is a well-written narrative characterized by a dark undercurrent that creates shadows and nuances that become bigger and bolder at night. Some of the imagery is regular Halloween fare, while other elements are more sinister. 

‘Autumncrow’ is a most enjoyable work of macabre storytelling, suitable for young adults and older readers.  

Book Review: ‘Inspector Hobbes and the Curse’ by Wilkie Martin

The sequel to Inspector Hobbes and the Blood, this is the second book in Wilkie Martin’s Unhuman urban fantasy mystery series.

‘Inspector Hobbes and the Curse’ delivers an intriguing and unpredictable mystery story featuring the hapless Andy and the unflappable Inspector Hobbes as they investigate the circumstances of a wild animal killing a local farmer’s sheep. 

Of course, nothing is as straightforward as it might otherwise be, so the story develops into a much more complicated and unexpectedly bizarre case than either Hobbes or Andy are expecting. 

Martin’s writing is witty and easy to read, characterised by a lighthearted tone that is enriched by word play and “dad-joke humour”, and balanced by macabre scenes and some really lovely poignant moments. The story is very engaging, and carries the reader along at a very comfortable pace.

This quirky and fun read provides a great escape for the duration of the book, and the series is proving to be most enjoyable. 

Book Review: ‘Gravity Hill’ by Greg Alldredge

This third book in the Helena Brandywine steampunk adventure series is packed with action and suspense as Helena fights to solve the puzzle of her parents’ disappearance and battle against the evil forces that have taken over San Francisco at the same time. 

In many ways, Helena is a woman ahead of her time, who shows that women can do anything they set their mind to. She is also flawed, which makes her more believable and relatable for the reader.

While this story is part of a longer overall narrative, there is sufficient resolution for this story to stand on its own merits. The book ends in a satisfying manner, and yet the teasers for the next story still make book 4 beckon most invitingly.