Dink keeps getting envelopes in the mail addressed to “D. Duncan.” But the letters inside all start with “Dear Doris” and don’t make any sense! Josh and Ruth Rose think someone’s playing a trick on Dink. But Dink is sure there’s more to it than that, especially after Doris herself shows up and demands her letters!
The Empty Envelope is the fifth installment of Ron Roy’s A to Z Mysteries series. Like the rest of the series, it’s an entertaining mystery story for young children in spite of its flaws.
My biggest objection is that it continues the trend of keeping the children’s parents off-screen; at this point, only Ruth Rose’s little brother, Nate, who later went on to co-star in the ongoing Calendar Mysteries spin-off series, is the only relative to receive even a small supporting role.
The other thing to point out is that the children’s recklessness becomes even more apparent in this installment; while they’ve taken some questionable risks in previous books, The Empty Envelope sees Dink, a boy of only nine or ten, invite a total stranger to his home while his parents are elsewhere. And while I understand that Green Lawn is supposed to be the kind of quaint small town in which crime is simply unthinkable, the plots of The Bald Bandit and The Canary Caper show with perfect clarity that crimes are committed in Green Lawn (and these three children inevitably get involved). So one would think these parents would be teaching their children better safety practices.
On the other hand, I think the best aspect of The Empty Envelope is that it emphasizes Ruth Rose as a capable and clever young girl. She is definitely never overshadowed by her male companions, forced to play the role of the token female character, or implied to be inherently different from her friends just because she’s a girl. It’s quite refreshing, and it makes me very glad that the A to Z Mystery series was such a strong presence in my formative years; Ruth Rose is a great role model.
I highly recommended the A to Z Mysteries series to chapter book readers.
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