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Notice the creased cover and folded pages of the paperback in the photo? Inside, many pages are taped together or hanging on by a thread. This is what a truly loved book looks like! One of my sixth graders leant me her personal copy of Sprinkle with Murder, the first book in the Cupcake Mystery series. I can see why my student loved this book – a classic mystery plotline with action, romance, and LOTS of cupcake and bakery jargon. My favorite thing about the book was picturing this student making her predictions and gasping when shocking details were revealed. But I was troubled by the way women were portrayed in the mystery – the text focuses heavily on weight, looks and body image issues; the female characters were often catty, clueless, or waiting to be rescued. I felt sad and frustrated knowing that middle-grade readers were taking in these subtle messages about female behavior and stereotypes. I loved the special connection that I shared with my student while reading this book, but other than that, I wouldn’t pick it up again.
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