Phyllis Cohen

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 406

[Sinbad and Me] is a mystery story with character! It's breezy, funny, brash, clever, and frightening in turn. There are a number of puzzles all tied up in one good solution, and though it may sound as if the author has tried to work in every time-tested gimmick, the book doesn't sound tired and old-hat. It's fast moving!

There are all of these familiar elements—wonderful dog, pirate treasure, secret panels, caves, codes, ciphers, gamblers, family feuds, counterfeiting, old-world superstitions, haunted house, unsolved murder, missing map, invisible ink, and more.

But the young hero is not typical. For one thing, his hobby is old houses and antiques, and he is quite knowledgeable about these. For another, he has flunked his science course and is attending summer school to make it up. (He likes his teacher, he can pass the course, but he is completely disinterested in the subject—and remains unreconstructed.) He has tenacity and perseverance just like Sinbad, his wonderful bulldog. He doesn't set out to solve mysteries or play a lone hand. He reports odd happenings to the sheriff who is an intelligent, interesting, and observant man. (Hooray!)

Steve's friends are unusual, too. Herky is an authentic genius with total recall and a photographic memory. Mrs. Teska is old and crippled, speaks broken English, and is shrewd and kind. The science teacher skin dives and collects coins. Steve takes it for granted that there's more to people than appears on the surface and friends are where you find them. Though the story, as is the case with all children's mysteries, is wildly improbable, the characters and swift pace hold the attention completely. The puzzles will be fun for code lovers (solutions to the two ciphers are given at the end) and the author does not omit a single clue. It is a logically constructed, cleverly contrived, very involved plot. So involved is it, that about midway through the book, the hero is forced to list about thirty-five clues which he has collected. And that's only half-way through the book. This is a funny book. So few mysteries are genuinely funny, that this one stands out like a beacon!… The dialogue may be breezy, but the plot is solid—certainly one of the cleverest mysteries for youngsters I've ever read. (pp. 1-2)

Phyllis Cohen, in her review of "Sinbad and Me," in Young Readers Review (copyright © 1966 Young Readers Review), Vol. III, No. 2, October, 1966, pp. 1-2.

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