Review of Kelly Jones Notorious Nora
by Bob Davis
Nora is your typical 12-year sixth grader. Well, maybe not quite typical. Oh, she faces all the normal young girl problems. She worries about popularity (or the lack there of). She frets about getting a passing grade on the all-important Social Studies test. She suffers from asthma and she has a secret crush on the new kid in school who also happens to be the star basketball player. And if that weren’t enough, there’s the fact Mom is the school principal. But, on the other hand, Nora’s a want-to-be detective always looking for a mystery to solve. Meet Nora, along with her two best friends, Pep and Diva, as she sets out to find who stole the school’s prize basketball trophy right before the big game in Kelly Jones’ Notorious Nora, a new offering from WordWright.
Who could’ve stolen the trophy and why? Nora is determined to find out, despite the fact Mom told her to leave the mystery to the adults. While the whole school seems to think Zander, Nora’s crush and a recent transfer from Riverside, the schools arch rival for the trophy, had something to do with it, Nora’s sure he’s innocent.
But if not Zander, then who? Who could possibly gain from the trophy’s disappearance? As Nora, Pep and Diva puzzle about the problem, they also face other problems. For Nora there’s the challenge of the cheerleader tryouts where she’ll face her own archrival, Candice. Then, after losing when Candice fakes a sneeze to distract the already nervous Nora during her routine, Nora finds herself accused of being the thief of the test answers. Realizing how Zander feels being accused, Nora becomes all the more determined to find the answers to the mysteries. Answers that become more difficult when the young detective learns someone is sneaking around the old library building, previously the office of the late, great detective, Trevor Meeds. Some claim his ghost still travels around the building looking to solve mysteries. A fact Nora soon finds to be true. But Meeds’ ghost means her no harm; in fact, he wants to help her solve the mystery.
I don’t want to give away too much, so let me just say Kelly Jones has crafted a wonderfully entertaining young adult book. The action builds to a surprising climax in Notorious Nora and most young folks will easily identify with Nora, Pep and Diva. Youngsters, particularly the so-called tweens, will readily put themselves in Nora’s shoes and the challenges she faces in school and life. And the mystery will draw them into the story making it hard to put down once they start reading.