Riz Chester: The Counterfeit Bust by R. A. Stephens. Illus. by Em Hammond

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Riz Chester has highly tuned senses and notices things that most people don't, such as the brand of cheese being changed in the tuckshop lunches, the 10gram change in the size of the packets of chips, and the differences between identical twins Sabrina and Jenny. She keeps a note of the differences in her Weird Stuff Log because when she mentions them, people look at her funny.

But when she feels the difference in a $10 note that she is handed as change in a shop, she can't help but say something and so, sets in place an intriguing story of investigation that demonstrates the value of planning, thinking logically and recording what you discover in an organised way.

This is the first in a new series for newly independent readers - the second, The Fingerprint Code is due in November - that features ordinary kids working together to solve a puzzle using nothing but smart, logical thinking. No super powers, fantastic friends or timeslips so it will appeal to those who prefer to stay in the here and now.

With all the regular structures and strategies that support young readers, this is a series that will not only promote reading but with its back pages focusing on the what, why and how of forensics, might also inspire students to at least be more observant and appreciate the value of the research process, if not pursue a science career. One to earmark to get all the episodes.

Barbara Braxton