Joseph crafts a fast-paced mystery with this lively series opener, woking in some welcome educational elements even as the story entertains. Besides the focus on Egyptian myth and history, she incorporates naturalistic topics such as herpetology and landscaping. Though expositional at times, this information is primarily offered organically thanks to her quartet of resourceful, intelligent, and inquisitive protagonists. The mystery gets revealed gradually, allowing readers the opportunity to guess at the answers. Moments of danger are never too intense or prolonged, making this safe for an audience not quite ready for high stakes.
Even though this is their first official case as detectives, Joseph’s heroes are presented as world-famous, well-traveled, and having been good friends for a number of years, which leads to incongruous moments where, for the benefit of readers, they explain core aspects of their lives to one another as if for the first time, such as Lanny reminding Lexi of their parents’ occupations. Still, the relative freedom of the heroes to pursue the case, chaperoned by their tutor/bodyguard Bruce, evokes juvenile adventures of an earlier era. With its inherent exuberance and sense of innocence, plus its diverse cast, this tale will appeal to readers looking for an old-fashioned middle grade mystery with modern sensibilities.
Takeaway: Perfect for younger mystery-loving readers looking for an intelligent blend of adventure and danger.
Great for fans of: Laura Lee Hope’s Bobbsey Twins series, Sheila Turnage’s Mo & Dale Mysteries series, Shauna Holyoak’s The Kazu Jones series.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A-
"My MG [student] readers loved this mystery! As an adult reader, I found myself reliving my Nancy Drew years. Sherrill Joseph is a talented writer with a knack for details. Her diverse characers allow the young reader to make personal connections while learning about different cultures. Teachers will want this series in their classroom library!" --goblue *****
"The four protagonists are distinctly drawn . . . . The [mystery] is solid, with plenty of twists and red herrings that will allow readers to match wits with the Botanic Hill Detective Agency. The Egyptology element is intriguing and informative, with plenty of detail for Egypt enthusiasts (natron and cobra venom each play a role in the mystery). Overall, Joseph has written a fine first volume with plenty of good backstory and clear series potential. A well-developed mystery in which young detectives have fun while saving the day."--Kirkus Reviews
"Sherrill Joseph has created characters so lovable and interesting that readers can't help but feel like they are personal friends. Lexi, Moki, Rani, and Lanny become four young detectives off to track down a sacred urn, but the lessons they learn extend far beyond an Egyptian artifact. This is a story of friendship and determination that will keep kids glued until the end." --Sam Ashkenas, author of the Sammy Dragon series
Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse launched in October 2020. In this second adventure with the squad, you and the four detectives will be challenged by a mysterious old mansion, a seventy-year-old puzzle poem, dusty secret passages, a hidden gemstone, and a flickering light in the nearby cemetery. You can order Book 2 in the series on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, indiebound.org, or wherever books are sold!
Walnut Street: Phantom Rider launched on October 7, 2021. In this third adventure, our four detectives head to the Mayfield family's horse therapy ranch to solve the mystery of valuable objects disappearing from the barn and stables. They encounter danger as they investigate a snake-infested ghost town, search for a long-lost gold mine, and attempt to learn the identity of an eerie black-clad figure on horseback.
I am so happy to announce that to date, my debut novel Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets (Book 1 in the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series) has won eleven awards! The Gold Award for Juvenile Fiction from Mom's Choice Book Award. The Gold Award for Pre-Teen Fiction--Mystery from Moonbeam Children's Book Awards. The 2020 Best Book Award Winner for Children's Fiction from American Book Fest Awards. Second Place (tie) in HIstorical Fiction, and Second Place in Mystery, both from Royal Dragonfly Book Awards. Winner of the 2021 American Fiction Award for Pre-Teen Fiction. Gold Award for Best First Book, Juvenile/Young Adult from Independent Publisher Book Awards. Others.