Beware the Gingerbread House, by Emily Rodda

I reminded myself that whatever stupid thing I’d felt when I first visited the Gingerbread House, it was only a cake shop, after all.Even if it was done up to look like something out of a fairytale. And I told myself that Hazel Sweet, the owner, was just an ordinary woman.
It wasn’t her fault that her nose was long and hooked. Or that her chin was sharp and jutted out. It didn’t matter that she always wore black. Or that when she smiled, as she did all the time, her big teeth glittered, but her pale eyes seemed to stay as still and cold as river stones.

Sunny never says no to a new job, but when the Teenpower gang is asked to work for the Gingerbread House, a cake shop in the local shopping centre, Sunny doesn’t want anything to do with it. She can’t explain her horror at the thought of working there, but the place and its owner give her the creeps. But without Sunny the group can’t take the job, so she finds herself convinced to join them, working as bunnies and handing out leaflets in the mall.

Sunny’s feeling that there is something wrong won’t go away. Out in the mall she sees strange comings and goings involving a local crook known as The Wolf, and in the store itself it seems someone is out to do some damage. It seems that, yet again, the Teen Power gang is in for more than they bargained for.

Beware the Gingerbread House is the fifth title in Emily Rodda’s Raven Hill Mysteries series. This title is told through the eyes of Sunny, one of the six teens who make up Teenpower Inc, a group of teens who combine to take on job opportunitites for pocket money. Other titles in the series are told by other members of the gang – a touch which makes each book different and also allows readers to gradually build rapport with the various characters.

Beware the Gingerbead House is recommended for readers aged 10 to 14.

Beware the Gingerbead House, by Emily Rodda
Scholastic, 2004, first published 1994.

Cry of the Cat, by Emily Rodda

Shadow usually goes for an evening stroll and then climbs up the gum tree, leaps onto the balcony and crawls through the window to curl up on the end of my bed. Then she sleeps there for the rest of the night. But tonight she was missing, just like Mooshka and the others. What if she’d been run over?

Something is happening to the cats of Raven Hill. All over town cats are going missing. And of course, the Teen Power gang are caught up in the mystery.

When they get an after school job at Purrfection, the local cat store, the Teen Power crew think it will be an interesting way to earn some cash. But the store gives them the creeps. Then, when one of the teens, Elmo, loses his cat, they wonder if the strange owners of Purrfection could be involved. They have to find Shadow, and the other missing cats, before it is too late.

Cry of the Cat is the fourth title in the Raven Hill Mysteries series by Emily Rodda, perhaps best known for her Deltora Quest and Rowan of Rin series. Whilst this series is different from the others, which are both fantasies, young readers will enjoy the Raven Hill stories, which were previously published under the series title of Teen Power. Rodda combines mystery with themes of friendship and independence, and the six teen characters take turns narrating the tales, allowing readers to get to know each character well.

Cry of the Cat, by Emily Rodda
Scholastic, 2004

The Disappearing TV Star, by Emily Rodda

Richelle isn’t always excited when Teenpower Inc take on a new job, but when they are asked to appear in a television advertisement she thinks all her dreams are about to come true. This could be her big chance to get noticed and get her big break in show business.

But as with all of Teenpower’s jobs, nothing goes quite to plan. The star of the commercial is the rich and famous Cassandra Cass.Her over-protective mother is sure she is about to be kidnapped and when Cassandra disappears, it seems she’s right. The police are slow to react, thinking Cassandra has just run away. But Teenpower Inc can sense a mystery and they are soon on the case.

Instead of being one of best experiences of Richelle’s life, this is fast becoming the most terrifying.

The Case of the Disappearing TV Star is the third title in the Raven Hill Mysteries series, based around the exploits of the six teens known collectively as Teen Power Inc. The series first appeared in 1994 under the series title of Teen Power Inc, but is still likely to appeal to young readers – the target age is upper primary.

This series is not as gripping as Rodda’s fantasy series, but is good, solid reading which young mystery fans will enjoy.

The Disappearing TV Star, by Emily Rodda
Scholastic, 2004

The Sorcerer's Apprentice, by Emily Rodda

When Teen Power Inc get two new jobs, they don’t expect them to combine to solve a big mystery, but that’s exactly what happens. First, they are hired to help in a clean up of the local magic shop. Tom is the only one who is excited about this. He loves magic and hopes to learn something from the eccentric owner, Sid. Then a second job arises. The teens are asked to babysit seven year old Tarquin Anderson. The pay is great but Tarquin is more than a handful – even with two teens looking after him at a time.

Meanwhile, Raven Hill is under siege from a mysterious mugger, known widely as The Gripper. After Tom has a close brush with him it becomes personal. But the solution to the mystery – and the arrest of the mugger – is as surprising to Tom as it is to everyone.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is the second title in Emily Rodda’s Raven Hill Mysteries. First released in 1994, when the series was known as Teen Power Inc, the series will be popular with a new batch of pre and early teens. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice has plenty of action, a touch of humour and a smattering of clues to help would-be sleuths unravel the mystery.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, by Emily Rodda
Scholastic, 2004. First published in 1994

The Ghost of Raven Hill, by Emily Rodda

When Liz and her friends need to earn some money, she has a great idea. Soon the friends are known collectively as Teen Power Inc., advertising themselves as willing to do almost any job. When they do get their first job, however, they don’t expect to be involved in solving a mystery. Their employer, the proprietor of the Pen newspaper, is having an unbelievable run of bad luck. Liz and her friends are soon involved in working out what is going on.

The Ghost of Raven Hill is the first in the series now known as the Raven Hill Mysteries, but which first appeared in 1994 as the Teen Power Inc. series. The book seems to have travelled well and is just as likely to appeal to upper primary aged readers now as it did when it was first released.

A little different than Rodda’s more recent offerings in the fantasy genre, The Ghost of Raven Hill is still a good sound mystery story .

The Ghost of Raven Hill, by Emily Rodda
First Published by Scholastic, 1994, this edition, 2004