Timmi Tobbson Adventures, by J. I. Wagner and illustrated by C. Frohlich, are an ongoing series of mystery books that invite readers to “Solve Them Yourself”. Currently, there are 2 books out, with a 3rd due to be released this spring. As each story begins, readers are given instructions and guidance for the mysteries that lie ahead.
After some helpful hints, readers are thrown right into the story. Each chapter ends with a mystery that the reader needs to solve on their own before moving forward. The mysteries involve using both literary clues as well as picture clues. There are hints in the back of the book and, if you are really stuck, the mystery is solved by the characters as the next chapter unfolds.
I have found the mysteries to add such a wonderful interactive element to these stories, which are very engaging on their own. I have used them in both advanced and intervention reading groups, depending on the level of reader in front of me. While they are fun, interactive, and engaging, I also find them to be useful in teaching inferences as well as pulling out important details within a story. I am not sure my students always know how many of their reading tools they are using as they assist in solving each mini mystery.
Another added benefit to this series is that there is a junior series companion – Timmi Tobson Junior! They follow the same idea – a solve it yourself style mystery, but they are written for an early reader. I currently have a set of siblings, one in 1st grade and another in 4th, that are both reading Timmi Tobson books, the younger reading Junior and the older reading the original series. I asked them what they thought and both of them agreed that they loved being able to share the same characters and “world” with their sibling and they will often challenge each other to solve each other’s picture mysteries. The parents shared with me that this is the first time they have been able to “share” their reading in this way. They are each the most recent book in their respective series and were already asking me when I thought the next would be available!
I personally am a huge mystery buff – it is most certainly the dominant genre on my bookshelf. I love the thrill of finding clues and trying to unravel the solution before the characters. Timmi Tobbson actively invites readers to do that. I think that Timmi Tobson is a must check out for any mystery fan…and maybe even those who have yet to catch the puzzle solving bug!