New Kids On The Block with Shauna Holyoak

New Kids On The Block is a year-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader meant to welcome and celebrate new voices and debut authors in the literary community.

Are you a debut author whose book is being published in 2019? It’s not too late to sign-up! If you want to participate in New Kids On The Block this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! You can send a tweet or DM on Twitter to @Pop_Reader or email me at [email protected]. I would love to collaborate with you!

About Shauna Holyoak

Shauna Holyoak is a middle-grade author, and her debut Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers will be released by Disney-Hyperion on April 23, 2019. This is the first book in a new mystery series following the spunky papergirl, Kazu Jones.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

Why Mysteries Matter

When my daughter was in the fourth grade, I got a phone call from her teacher notifying me that my girl had fallen asleep in class. The teacher expressed concern over what would cause a 9-year old to be so sleepy. But I knew exactly what had stolen those restful hours from her the night before: The Box Car Children.

The girl was obsessed. Mystery had become her favorite genre and she couldn’t get enough. So when I found a huge stack of Box Car Children books at a thrift store, I got them for her, and she promptly set off to read the night away, apparently.

Since then I’ve thought a lot about why mysteries matter, to people in general, but to kids in particular, and it’s reminded me of my eight-year old self.

I grew up in Palo Alto, California, and Mandy was my third-grade best friend. In addition to believing I was Wonder Woman’s real daughter, surrendered at birth so she could fight crime, I also believed Mandy and I were destined to be world-renowned detectives. I have vague memories of the two of us tailing a businessman through a small park that was shrouded in greenery. On his way out, he tossed something into the trash, and we dug through the garbage can to extract the bag he had discarded, only to discover a lone bakery tissue inside.

Why had it been so important for me and Mandy to track down clues and unpuzzle leads that would solve some grand (and imaginary) mystery?

By that time, my parents had been divorced for five years. My bio dad didn’t call much, and I couldn’t understand why. Mom had remarried, and the baby her and my stepfather welcomed into our family had changed things, so much so that I felt a little lost and untethered. We were also making plans to move from California to somewhere more affordable. To somewhere completely foreign.

Obviously, there were mysteries in my life I couldn’t begin to solve, but I felt powerful pretending there were other mysteries that I could.

Stephen King said, “Books are uniquely portable magic.” They transport readers to settings and scenarios that are often more appealing than their own. It’s that magic that draws readers in, and then enables them to safely experience conflict and practice managing it. And a well-written mystery empowers young readers to feel like they have a hand in solving it.

Middle-graders have little control over their lives, and some may even have their own unsolvable mysteries. But with mystery novels, kids can enjoy the unknowing — float in confusion and bewilderment — confidant that in the end, all mysteries will be solved with complete closure. Kids can tolerate this real-world uncertainty while reading, practicing the fine art of resolution, so that when they do have a bit more control, they can use it to solve mysteries of their own. 

Title Kazu Jones and The Denver Dognappers
Author Shauna Holyoak
Pages 320 Pages
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Genre Mystery
Publication Date April 23rd 2019 by Disney Hyperion
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Packed with high stakes mystery and tons of heart, this first installment in a new series introduces Kazu Jone – a spunky, scrappy detective who’s this generation’s Harriet the Spy.

When a string of dognappings grips her Denver neighborhood, Kazu Jones vows to track down the culprits. She can’t stand to see more dogs go missing – especially once her neighbors’ beloved pet is taken because of her gigantic mistake.

With the help of her gang-including her best friend and expert hacker, March; and her ginormous, socially anxious pup, Genki-Kazu uncovers evidence that suggests the dognapping ring is bigger than she ever imagined. But the more she digs, the more dangerous her investigation becomes. The dognappers are getting bolder, and Genki could be next…

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Jen is a thirty-something Canadian book blogger and bibliophile currently residing in the wilds of suburbia. Aside from a penchant for older men, particularly those with the surnames Firth, Elba and Norton, Jen is also passionately interested in running, Mad Men, and Marilyn Monroe. In addition to being a voracious reader and self-proclaimed television addict, Jen is also an aspiring children and youth services librarian who would like to pursue a MLIS and better help readers find the perfect book for them.