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: ‘Ronaldo: The Flying Reindeer Academy’ by Maxine Sylvester

Ronaldo is no ordinary reindeer, as this wonderful children’s book reveals.

Ronaldo attends the Flying Reindeer Academy alongside his best friend Rudi, enjoys The Weekly Flyer comics every Saturday morning, and dreams of becoming one of Santa’s elite reindeer like his hero, Vixen Pedersen. 

This is a really fun story about friendship, encouragement and celebrating one another’s achievements. The story is infused with humour and warmth that is sure to engage and entertain young readers. The characters and events of the story are relatable, delivering positive lessons and modeling appropriate responses to typical.childhood challenges along the way. 

Delightful reading for families and for independent young readers, this book would make an excellent addition to family, school.and community libraries.

Book Review: ‘Dragon’s Rock’ Lucy Evans Instaexplorer Book 2 by Millie Slavidou

‘Dragon’s Rock is an excellent kids’ mystery novel in which Lucy visits family in Wales and stumbles upon a series of clues relating to a local mystery. 

Lucy and her cousin Bethan are delightful characters who demonstrate intelligence and integrity, and who are both creative and imaginative in their own ways. Both are engaging and positive role models for young readers. 

The story is well written, structured so that the action progresses at a good pace, keeping the reader interested as the intrigue heightens. The inclusion of attractive images of Lucy’s fictional Instagram posts gives the book a very contemporary feel that readers will find relatable and appealing.

It is an ideal book for independent middle grade readers or for family reading, ‘Dragon’s Rock’ would make an excellent addition to family, school, and local library collections. 

Book Review: ‘October Jones: The Lightning Pines Mystery’ by J.D. McFarren

This is an entertaining and interesting mystery story for kids that delivers positive messages about honesty, friendship and personal integrity. 

October Jones is a likeable protagonist who kids will relate to easily. He is basically a good kid, but finds himself getting into trouble from time to time. Alongside his friends and his sister April, October takes it upon himself to solve a mystery and finds himself defending his own innocence at the same time. 

This is a kids’ novel suitable for independent readers, or for families to read together. It would make an excellent addition to any family, town or school library. 

Book Review: ‘A Queer Old Christmas ‘ by CH Clepitt

Heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, this excellent story explores the devastating consequences of bigotry and hatred within families, and the healing power of acceptance and love.

Infused with humour and warmth that serves as a very effective contrast to the bitterness of the antagonist, the story immerses the reader in the lives of Linda, Tim and Ani as they navigate their way through quite significant challenges. It is a positive and uplifting book that helps those who have the privilege of being comfortable in their situations to understand what it is like for others who experience discrimination and prejudice, and how to appropriately respond to differences in others. 

The writing is excellent, the story is expertly crafted, and the characters are delightful. All in all, it’s a very entertaining read that comes highly recommended for YA and older. It’s a story that everyone should read. 

Book Review: ‘A Sprig Of Holly’ by J.A. Clement

A delightful tale full of winter magic.

This is a delightful tale full of winter magic with well developed fairy tale qualities that enrich the story telling.

While the characters are not very complex, they are likeable and engaging, and the reader does develop a sense of empathy and concern for them at the beginning of the story that helps to hook them into the events of the tale.  Of course, it is a short story, so the characters are not required to be developed in any depth or detail. It is enough that they do what they do and that the story is beautifully told.

The story also has some lovely Yuletide elements, although not so much that it is only a story for the Christmas season. 

This would be a lovely story for family reading, particularly on a winter’s night. 

‘A Sprig Of Holly’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here

There are more stories in this series, which I’m keen to read!

Book Review: ‘The Royal Tournament’ by Richard H. Stephens

A well-written medieval-style fantasy adventure.

Richard H Stephens The Royal TournamentAn exciting medieval-styled fantasy adventure, ‘The Royal Tournament’ is the story of Javen, a youth who represents his local area in the King’s Tournament. It’s a great story full of action and excitement, but it also carries weighty themes of family, loyalty, friendship, and tolerance that give the reader reasons to think and reflect.

‘The Royal Tournament’ is a great read for older children and young adults, and provides plenty of fodder for valuable discussions either as a family or in a classroom.

Acorn Award II Silver
I really enjoyed this well-written short read, and have awarded it a Silver Acorn.

Get your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Pablo the Storytelling Bear’ by Penny Luker

This is a storybook every family needs to own and read.

Penny Luker PabloThis is an adorable children’s storybook about Bill and his friend Pablo, a toy polar bear who tells delightful bedtime stories. Rich in imagination and wonder, this book and the stories within it are engaging and heartwarming, delivering very positive messages about friendship, family and behaviour.

Bill is a nice kid who belongs to an average family. Rather than portraying him as an ideal child, the author has made him relatable to other kids: he has disappointments, fights with his sister, and has moments of selfishness. Overall, though, Bill is a good model for kids in the way these situations are resolved.

Pablo’s stories also present opportunities to discuss highly relevant global issues such as conservation, environment, climate change and animal welfare with children in sensitive and proactive ways.

As someone who loves books, polar bears and Canada, I appreciate the beautiful storytelling and the messages of the stories in this book.

Acorn Award I Golden

This book has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Scheherazade Cat – The Story Of A War Hero’ by Stephanie C. Fox

A beautiful story of a little cat and how she saved a soldier.

Stephanie C Fox Scheherazade Cat

This beautiful story of a calico kitten and her role in the Gulf War is beautifully written in a straightforward yet heartwarming style that will be enjoyed by older children, but also by adults. The writing is expressive but still easily understood, and the uglier elements of the war are treated gently, although not ignored, so that younger or sensitive readers are not frightened or put off from reading the story.

The cover and illustrations by Milena Radeva are absolutely stunning, capturing both the story and the personality of the kitten as she grew and won her place in the heart of a soldier.

‘The Scheherazade Cat’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence in both storytelling and illustration.

Find ‘The Scheherazade Cat’ here.

Book Review: ‘Blue Light Christmas 2: A Cry for Elf’ by Tobey Alexander

‘A Cry for Elf’ is a fun read for kids and grownups alike. 

Tobey Alexander Blue Light Christmas 2‘A Cry for Elf’ is a fun read for kids and grownups alike.  Set one year after the first book in the series, Alexander takes readers of all ages on a romp through the North Pole in which Constable Tim Tinsel and his daughter, Eve, are challenged with the task of rescuing Santa and reclaiming Christmas from key occupants of the Naughty list.

The story is delightful, full of action and humour that will entertain and amuse independent readers and provide meaningful family time for those who read the story together. The story delivers clear moral messages about choosing to do what is right and putting others before ourselves, without being either preachy or self-righteous.

There’s no reason at all why reading this book should be limited to the Christmas season. It’s perfectly entertaining and valuable reading for any day of the year.

Golden Acorns
This was Book Squirrel’s featured book in the Bookish Advent Event on December 9th, so it’s delightful to be able to give it a Golden Acorn in recognition of its excellence.
Find it on Amazon.