Lists of Nominees
2012
Documents to Print


Discussion Module

The Red Blazer Girls: the Ring of Rocamadour by Michael D. Beil

The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour
b
y Michael D. Beil

Publishing Information: Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2009
ISBN: 9780375948145 / 978-375842035 (PB)
Pages
: 304 p.
Ages: 10 & Up

Summary:
It all began with The Scream. And ended with... well, if we told you that, it wouldn't be a mystery! But in between The Scream and The Very Surprising Ending, three friends find themselves on a scavenger hunt set up for a girl they never met, in search of a legendary ring reputed to grant wishes. Are these sleuths in school uniforms modern-day equivalents of Nancy, Harriet, or Scooby? Not really, they're just three nice girls who decide to help out a weird lady, and end up hiding under tables, tackling word puzzles and geometry equations, and searching rather moldy storage rooms for "the stuff that dreams are made of" (that's from an old detective movie). Oh, and there's A Boy, who complicates things. As boys often do….

Book Talk:
Melodramatic Sophie, super brainy Margaret, and wisecracking Rebecca are all seventh graders at St. Veronica's in Manhattan. They are also amateur detectives. When Sophie glimpses a ghostly face in the window across the courtyard, she screams—and thus begins the mystery.

The face doesn’t belong to a ghost at all, but rather to a wealthy, elderly hippie who needs help solving a twenty-year-old puzzle. If the girls can solve a clue she found on a card, the woman may be able to find her long-lost daughter.

This first clue leads them into a dangerous scavenger hunt, where it takes all three of them to figure out the difficult word puzzles and geometry equations. The clues send them on a race against a viscous shadowy figure to find a valuable museum artifact.

If all this is not complicated enough, Sophie has another problem. What should she do about a boy friend who is quickly becoming a “boyfriend!”

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Catholic Schools
Friendship
Mathematics
Puzzles
Scavenger Hunts

Awards & Reviews:
Edgar Allal Poe Award Nominee, 2010
Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award Nominees, 2011
Texas Lone Star Reading List, 2011

Booklist, January 1, 2009 (Starred Review)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May 1, 2009
Horn Book, October 1, 2009
Kirkus, March 15, 2008
School Library Journal, June 1, 2009

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. What author and novel are mentioned repeatedly in the opening chapters which have some parallels to the meeting with Mrs. Harriman? 
  2. What does the first clue , Renidash’s Het Cholos orf Lanscad refer to? What type of puzzle is this?
  3. What does the 2nd clue mean?  SIEARISOVLERBMAHERTDEUNOKLO? 
  4. What does the Ovis aries mean?  How do the girls find the next clue? 
  5. How does Pythagoras help to solve the puzzle?  Who was Pythagoras? at is the Pythagorean Theory?  How does it help the girls find the distance?
  6. What legend is attached to the Ring of Rocamadour?
  7. Who was known as the “Dumb Ox?”
  8. Who steals Sophie’s backpack and why?
  9. Who ends up assisting the trio in finding the ring?
  10. Give some examples of supportive adults in the novel.  Who were the villains? 

Related Websites:
Author’s Web site – michaeldbeil.com
Series Website - redblazergirls.com/about.html

Ask Dr. Math: Math puzzles - mathforum.org/library/drmath/sets/mid_puzzles.html
Puzzles and Games at Math.com - www.math.com/students/puzzles.html

Read-a-Likes:
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett, 2004
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, 2003 
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, 1967
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, 1987
The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner, 2008
My One Hundred Adventures
by Polly Horvath, 2008
The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt, 2008
The Puzzling World of Winston Breen: THe Secret in the Box by Eric Berlin, 2007
Remember Me to Harold Square by Paula Danziger, 1999
The Nancy Drew Mysteries
by Carolyn Keene, 1959 -          
Walls Within Walls by Maureen Sherry, 2010

Other Books by the Author:
The Vanishing Violin, 2010
The Mistaken Masterpieces, 2011

About the Author:
Michael D. Beil is an English teacher in a New York City high school. He grew up in Andover, Ohio (pop. 1200), where he learned to sail, milk cows, tell the difference between hay and straw, and many other important lessons. “I worked as a sailmaker and lawyer before finding my true calling in 1997: Teacher. Since 2001, I have taught English and drama at an all-girls Catholic high school in Manhattan, where I also wrote and produced Aftershocks, a play based on the challenges facing the immigrant families of some of my students. I live in Manhattan with my wife Laura, dogs Isabel and Maggie, and cats Cyril and Emma.“

“When I'm indoors, I love cooking (anything French, especially!), playing the cello (not nearly as well as I'd like), and sinking my teeth into a really great book. Outdoors, I love skiing, sailing, and hiking and camping. “

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair