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*Blue Schwartz And Nefertiti's Necklace: A Mystery With Recipes* by Betty Jacobson Hechtman- young readers book review

Blue Schwartz And Nefertiti's Necklace: A Mystery With Recipes
by Betty Jacobson Hechtman
Grades 4-6 151 pages Brown Barn Books September 2006 Paperback    

Blue Schwartz And Nefertiti's Necklace piqued my interest simply due to its Egyptian theme and the main character's unusual name. I love mysteries, and this one kept me guessing. At times I thought I knew the culprit, but it turned out that I was only half-right. I was quite impressed with the way author Betty Jacobson Hechtman interweaves so many social aspects and bits of education into her mystery.

Thirteen-year-old Blue Schwartz has a loving home environment; however, the family is having money troubles, and the tension this causes is palpable. Her brilliant brother seems to occupy everyone’s energies, yet Blue is blessed with a loyal and loving friend in Yvonne, who fills the void in Blue’s life. Like true friends, Blue is also a support for Yvonne.

Yvonne’s parents had an interracial marriage, and Hechtman tastefully demonstrates the effects for people unused to marriages like these. Sadly, Yvonne’s parents have divorced, and she must adjust to their new lives.

Blue also has a wonderful friend in a neighbor who shares her passion for cooking. Their kind, trusting relationship will appeal to readers. Blue's passion for food comes in handy during the babysitting jobs she takes on in order to finance her expenses and reduce the strain on her family.

A project at school sets Blue apart from her peers in yet another way. Blue always seems to be doing something different from the others, and those who cannot accept her non-conformist ways see her as an outcast. The new guy at school, Shane Clavedo, has Blue hoping that he likes her, yet fear keeps her hesitant and unsure of what to do.

When a valuable ancient necklace is stolen, Blue is blamed for the theft. Upset with the accusation and fearing the consequences, Blue investigates the mystery with the help of her friends.

Readers will be thrilled to find five recipes they can make themselves. Parents, on the other hand, will be thrilled to see that the recipes are healthy and will enjoy their children's growing interest in cooking. Hechtman includes historical and nutritional information on many food groups, creating a story that serves the dual purpose of being entertaining and an educational lesson as well.

Hechtman actually has much in common with Blue. She had babysitting jobs throughout her school years and cooked for the children, just like her main character. A physically active woman, she travels between Chicago and her home in California, which she shares with Einstein, her cat, and Goldy Lox, her dog.

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