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The Painting That Wasn't There
This title covers these subjects: School stories., Mystery fiction., Art -- Forgeries -- Fiction.
The Painting That Wasn't There
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Award Winners Reviewed Titles Print Book Supported by Capstone Interactive Accelerated Reader
Field Trip Mysteries

The Painting That Wasn't There

by Steve Brezenoff
Illustrated by C.B. Canga

James "Gum" Shoo's art class heads to the museum. They've been learning about forged art, but they never expected to find a fake in the gallery! Only Gum and his gumshoe friends will be able to solve this museum caper.

Reading LevelGrades 2-3
Interest LevelGrades 3-6
Lexile Level440L
ATOS Level3.2
AR Points1
AR Quiz #130967
Early Intervention Level23
PublisherStone Arch Books
BrandField Trip Mysteries
Page Dimensions5 1/4" x 7 1/2"
Page Count88
BindingReinforced Library Binding
List Price: $25.32 School/Library Price

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Jean Little Library Blog - Jennifer, Librarian

"You can never have too many good, solid, beginning chapter book mysteries. Or dinosaur books. Or Star Wars anything. Or fairy books. Or...ok, ok, getting off the subject here. Sorry, haven't had my tea yet this morning. Ok, where was I? Oh yes, beginning chapter book mysteries. You got your classics, Cam Jansen, A to Z, your middling populars, Third Grade Detective, Capital Kids (Am I the only person that thinks that should be Capitol?), your screwy/funny, Hank the Cowdog, Chet Gecko, your spin-offs, Nancy Drew misc. dreck, Mary-Kate and Ashley, and now... We have a new classic on our hands! It's got all the elements - kids with strong independent voices and quirky nicknames, a real mystery and a real crook, and lots of clues and logical deductions, and, of course, clueless adults! Because why else would a kid be needed to solve the mystery? This particular story is about a missing painting. Gumshoe (James Shoo) and his friends Sam (Samantha), Cat (Catalina), and Egg (Edward) are off on a field trip with their favorite teacher - Ms. Stanwyck from art class. They're excited to get a closer look at the paintings she's been showing them in class, and Egg is especially excited to be doing what he loves best; photography! But when a mean guard starts picking on Egg, they have second thoughts. And then Egg notices something's....different. Ms. Stanwyck won't listen, so it's up to the four to solve the crime! The illustrations have a dark, spooky quality that fits the mysterious plot. I would have liked clearer reproductions of the pictures, so the reader can see the clues, but kids will enjoy the characters revealed in the illustrations and get a shiver out of the dark corners. I'm excited to discover this new mystery series and look forward to adding it to my library....sometime next year. Ah, end of the year budget woes." - Jean Little Library Blog

November 5, 2009

Bookworming in the 21st Century - Kristen

"James and his friends seem to always get caught up in a mystery needed to be solved. When they travel to the River City Art Museum, they realize one of the paintings on the wall is actually a copy! They go about making a list of suspects and narrowing it down until they find their culprit! I absolutely fell in love with the illustrations in this book. C.B. Canga does a phenomenal job with the full color pages. The mystery itself is fairly simple and well explained so that the younger readers understand how the mystery was solved. The other fantastic thing about this book, was the activities at the end which could be used to engage students into further literacy skills and projects. This is definitely a book I'd recommend to introduce young or struggling readers to the genre of mysteries. 5/5 Roses." - Bookworming in the 21st Century

December 10, 2009


Booklist - Ian Chipman

"This title in the Field Trip Mysteries series marries the always high-interest topic of an art heist with a breezy, straightforward story just right for reluctant readers. The book opens with an illustrated dossier belonging to sixth-grader James “Gum” Shoo (“Interests: Gum chewing, field trips, and showing everyone what a crook Anton Gutman is”) and three pals. The story then proceeds to tell how he got his flatfoot moniker. In art class, the kids learn about a famous painting and are delighted to find out that they’re going on a field trip to see it in person. At the museum, one of James’ henchfriends notices that the painting on the wall’s a forgery, and the four sleuths set out to uncover the perp. It’s a quickly paced and quickly resolved caper, but what’s lacking in characterization and plot is made up for in style: Canga’s illustrations add a touch of middle-school noir to the overall handsome presentation. The can-do spirit extends to the back matter, prompting kids to solve a mystery themselves or write up a new one." - Booklist

December 15, 2009

Jean Little Library Blog - Jennifer

"So, when I reviewed the latest Field Trip Mysteries, The Painting That Wasn't There, for Cybils, I lamented the end-of-year budget woes that prevented me from getting this intriguing and excellent series for our library. Guess what came in the mail today, from the generous folks at Stone Arch Books? Yep. The first four Field Trip Mysteries! They will be out on our shelves for the new year and in my bag for summer reading promotions in May!" - Jean Little Library Blog

December 23, 2009


School Library Journal - Elaine Charnow, Deasy/Landing Elementary School

"In The Painting That Wasn’t There, a class visits a temporary art exhibit. The students have learned about illegal copies of masterpieces, so when a celebrated painting is determined to be a forgery, James Shoo and his friends set out to solve the crime. In The Zoo with the Empty Cage, EGG (Edward G. Garrison) is a down-to-earth boy whose science club has an outing to a zoo. The endangered animal that the kids are most looking forward to seeing suddenly disappears. The book becomes a real page-turner as the students look for suspects that even include their teacher. The occasional colorful, full-page illustrations in these engaging mysteries are inviting. These books are appropriate for reluctant readers as well as those just beginning chapter books. Concluding pages offer springboards for teachers to encourage their students to write mysteries as well as to learn investigation techniques. Good purchases for libraries that need mysteries with contemporary settings." - School Library Journal

February 1, 2010

Tri State Young Adult Book Review Committee - Linda McNeil

"The author Steve Brezenoff, has written a dynamic story that will appeal to most sixth graders. Sudents always want to get out of class for their special teachers and art class is one of the favorites. The readers will also relate to the idiosyncrasies of field trips. What could be more fun than secretly moving around the museum with a bunch of friends to solve the mystery of the forged painting. This is a fast paced story humorously written will appeal to readers in middle school. The action in the novel is fast paced and very believable to school students. A great read!" - Tri State Young Adult Book Review Committee

November 1, 2009



Bank Street College Children's Book Committee

The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2011

April 1, 2011

Steve Brezenoff

Steve Brezenoff

Steve Brezenoff is the author of more than fifty middle-grade chapter books, including the Field Trip Mysteries series, the Ravens Pass series of thrillers, and the Return to the Titanic series. He's also written three young-adult novels, Guy in Real Life; Brooklyn, Burning; and The Absolute Value of -1. In his spare time, he enjoys video games, cycling, and cooking. Steve lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Beth, and their son and daughter. .

Go to the Author’s Page →