The Klampie Mystery
Before setting out on a family vacation to Australia, Samantha’s parents give her a plush koala. She names him Klampie, because he can clamp onto anything (a cute name that a child would actually choose). Once in Australia, a strange thing happens. A real koala accidentally pushes Klampie under the driver’s seat and takes his place! Because the koala sleeps all day and sneaks out at night to eat, Samantha does not realize a real animal has replaced her toy. The longer she goes without noticing, the more exciting the story becomes. The reader grows increasingly eager to know when she will discover the switch and what will happen to both koalas. I, a full-grown adult, was particularly concerned about the fate of the stuffed animal.
In addition to an entertaining story, The Klampie Mystery also has an educational aspect. Mirroring the way that children and adults interact, Rodriguez often has Samantha asking questions, such as “What does ‘vice versa’ mean?” Young readers will also learn the meanings of a few other words, why the weather is different in Australia, and a little about koalas.
The only thing I dislike about this book is the occasionally clunky dialogue. In the middle of a dramatic scene, for example, the excitement is broken so someone can explain that koalas are not bears. This should only be an annoyance for adults though, as most kids will be too interested in the story and pictures to notice that the narrative could be streamlined.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The plot is fun, and the pictures are adorable (my favorite one features a tiny koala in the zoo, waving at Samantha). I heartily recommend this book, along with a trip to the zoo.
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