The Case of the Missing Auntie by Michael Hutchinson

The Case of the Missing Auntie (A Mighty Muskrats Mystery)

Michael Hutchinson

Second Story Press, Fiction, Mar. 17, 2020

Suitable for Ages: 9-12

Themes: Mystery, Adventure, First Nations, Canada, Indigenous Children, Government, Bullies

Publisher’s Synopsis:

In this second book in the Mighty Muskrats Mystery series, the four problem-solving cousins (now bona fide amateur sleuths) are off to the city to have fun at the the Exhibition Fair. But when Chickadee asks Grandpa what he would like them to bring back from the city, she learns about Grandpa’s missing little sister. The sister was “scooped up” by the government and adopted out to strangers without her parents’ permission many years ago — like many Indigenous children. Their grandfather never stopped missing her or wondering what happened to her. Now the Mighty Muskrats have a new mystery to solve.

Once in the bright lights of the big city, the cousins get distracted, face-off with bullies, meet some heroes and unlikely teachers, and encounter racism and many other difficulties First Nations kids can face in the city. The Muskrats’ search for their missing auntie will take them all the way to the government, where they learn hard truths about their country’s treaatment of First Nations people.

Why I like this book:

The Mighty Muskrats are back again and they have a new mystery to solve, finding their Cree grandfather’s missing sister, Charlotte. The story is entertaining in the beginning as the four cousins leave the reservation (rez) to have fun in the big city and sobering once they settle down to pursue every lead to discover what happened to Charlotte.

Michael Hutchinson’s captivating mystery brings history to life and helps readers learn about the injustice done to indigenous First Nations children between 1950-1980. The stories of mistreatment and betrayal by the government must be told so youth of today don’t forget what happened to many of their relatives.

Chickadee takes the lead in this story. She is a savvy and unstoppable detective who is not going to let the government bureaucracy get in her way as she travels back and forth between agencies and administrators who go by the book when they could show some heart.  For, Atim attending the Exhibition Fair is his mission. Otter’s heart is focused on getting concert tickets to see his favorite band, “The Wovoka Wail.” Samuel leads them into trouble with dangerous gangs and bullies, before he gets serious about the search for their great-aunt Charlotte. After some teenage missteps, the three male cousins show their super sleuth abilities and stand with Chickadee.

I enjoyed this contemporary story about four resourceful teens, the Indigenous “rez”, mixed with tribal wisdom of their grandfather, a respected elder. The ending is well done and I don’t want to give anything away for readers. Just make sure you have a box of kleenex handy.

Make sure you check out the first book in this Mighty Muskrats Mystery series, The Case of Windy Lake, about growing up on a First Nations reservation. This book is ideal for school libraries and classroom reading.

Michael Hutchinson is a member of the Misipawistik Cree Nation. He currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he works with organizations that advocate for First Nations families in Manitoba and across Canada.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by the publisher.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

25 thoughts on “The Case of the Missing Auntie by Michael Hutchinson

  1. Now, this is a great idea for a book. It is so good to see that what happened in the past is being brought to light. This is a wonderful series and I hope there will be more featuring these amateur sleuths.

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  2. I really enjoy a good middle grade mystery and a story about today’s indigenous kids. I haven’t read a Mighty Muskrats Mystery yet, but when my library opens, I will be looking for them. Thanks for introducing me to a wonderful sounding Canadian series and author.

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  3. I’m going to look for this when my library reopens. I’m really into mysteries and this one sounds like a great series.

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    • It’s a great mystery involving teen members who leave the reservation for an adventure in the city and solve a mystery for their grandfather. The first book gives you a feel of the “rez” life, while leaving makes you realize the prejudices they still deal with.

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  4. This series is new to me- but I do love a good mystery. The characters sound great and so does the storyline. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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  5. This sounds intriguing! I especially like that it’s a mystery set in Canada, and that the characters are indigenous, but the focus of the story is the mystery. I love that you highlighted a lesser known author today!

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    • Thank you! I love it that authors are telling the stories about how the government treated indigenous child (many stories come from relatives). Second Story Press is a good resource. We also have a history of what we’ve done to reservations.

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  6. Indigenous youth are not featured in MG books very often. I only remember reading one other book, although the title escapes me right now. The mystery story line here, the characters, and the Canadian location will have me searching for both books in the series. Not sure if you ever featured the first book, but it’s already on my TBR list (I need to start jotting down where the titles came from on my growing list of books to read). Thanks for the great review.

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    • I’m glad I shared a topic that interests everyone. No, I haven’t read the first book, but plan to. Second Story publishes a lot of stories about the First Nations of Canada, like I AM NOT A NUMBER. I find many of their books in my library. And, I purchase some. If they haven’t reached your library, this book is 6.99 in paperback on Amazon. I haven’t read any MG books about Native American youth. Only books wonderful nonfiction books from Wisdom Tales, like “Horse Raid” by Paul Goble and “Whispers of the Wolf,” that are period pieces — but outstanding reads. You can search them on my site.

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  7. This sounds amazing! I can count on one hand books I’ve read with indigenous characters as main characters. I’m really glad there are some out there, especially historical ones too. I’m taking US History this year, and the standard curriculum covers the treatment and history of indigenous people for about two and a half lessons, usually as an aside. It’s super awesome that it’s a middle-grade mystery book as well – to make it more accessible to younger readers! Thanks for the review!

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    • This may be a good advance project for you in preparation for your class — to compare the similarities and differences in how the US and Canada dealt with their indigenous people. Most of what I share is about how the Canadian government treated the First Nations children — you can search my website for some of my early reviews, like I AM NOT A NUMBER, where children were thrown into residential schools run by nuns (like the grandfather), given new names, forbidden to speak their language and tribal memories. Siblings were separated. And, the young children were literally stolen from their parents and put up for adoption in other parts of Canada and the US. I’d love to learn more about how we treated families. I am only familiar with what we did with tribal lands. Second Story has a wealth of different kinds of books that US publishers wouldn’t normally publish.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the premise behind this story and that it introduces an indigenous culture to young readers. I was a huge fan of the mystery genre as a young reader, and this one sounds like a book I would have enjoyed. Thanks for the great post for MMGM, Patricia!

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    • I am pleased you enjoyed the review. It is a fun mystery with a lot important history. This series reminded me a bit of the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew books we read — with indigenous characters and theme.

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