The Phony Farkleberry Book Review

Hi, all, it’s Sher here. Today is Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, and I want to start with many thanks to Shannon Messenger for the meme honoring my favorite genre.


Today I have a book review for The Phony Farkleberry, book one of the Twisted Oak Amateur Detectives, a middle grade series by Michael Scott Miller. But first, check out the books and blurbs, along with some praise:



Middle grade children’s book series featuring the Twisted Oak Amateur Detectives —
Amanda, Melanie, Tubby, Tyler, & Dontrelle.
When a painting by legendary artist Thomas Farkleberry is stolen from the art gallery where Tyler’s mother works, Tyler’s mind races to the whispered conversation he overheard on the night of the big gala. But when his mother dismisses Tyler’s suspicions, he and his friends, Melanie, Amanda, Tubby, and Dontrelle, decide to take the investigation into their own hands. Can they crack the case before their parents discover what they are up to?
When a series of unusual accidents threatens the survival of Camp Manahoac, the camp’s owners frantically call the police to investigate. Detective Johansson sends the Twisted Oak Amateur Detectives—Tubby, Tyler, Dontrelle, Amanda, and Melanie—under cover to find out what’s going on. Are the mishaps just a few unfortunate coincidences or is someone trying to sabotage the camp?
A lost property deed. A homeless man nicknamed Boxcar living on the edge of town in a broken-down railroad car. A cattle rancher digging for oil. A feud over a parcel of land.
Fast forward 140 years…
When the Twisted Oak Amateur Detectives spend a week at Amanda’s grandparents’ lake house in Kansas, they decide to trace an old property deed they find just for fun. But as the kids investigate, they discover a lingering feud and begin to wonder if the deed holds a secret that some folks would rather keep buried.


What readers are saying…


This is a delightful children’s mystery book…Great characters, exciting mystery, and a very good example of friends joining forces to achieve a goal…Very highly recommended

—Amazon Top 1000 reviewer

This is a wonderfully entertaining detective story for children. It is well written and filled with exciting scenes. The quick pace will keep readers glued to the pages.


I fully recommend this action packed book for ages nine to thirteen. It’s so much fun!



I haven’t read the book myself,  but author and college professor Kevin Gerard did. His first book, Diego’s Dragon, is an awesome tale, so I value his opinion. Without further ado, here’s his review from Goodreads:

Calling all Brainy Nerds and Kids that Like to Read About Them!

Starting with a great cover and back story, this is definitely a fun read for kids. It’s short, quick, and it has the type of adventure antics brainy, nerdy kids would love to get involved with. This story involves an intricate scheme to steal valuable art, and the adults are fairly clever. They’re no match for the Twisted Oak Amateur Detectives, though, even if the kids can’t seem to get their strategy right at every turn. From falling out of trees to crashing supercharged wheelchairs, the detectives manage to work their past their foibles and eventually face their adversaries. Each of the detectives possesses a distinct skill, and pooled together they make a formidable squadron of crime fighters.

Although I feel young readers would never notice my minor critique, I am a college professor, a writer, and critique many manuscripts and papers. I think The Phony Farkleberry features what nearly all books contain, my early offerings included, and that’s too much prose where it’s not needed. “Less is more” is an old axiom, and I think it would hold true in some parts of this book.

All in all, though, I think kids would eagerly read this book, and the other Twisted Oak Amateur Detectives books as well. If you’re brainy, nerdy, or picked on because of those attributes, you’ll find the adventures of these kids very enjoyable.

I was given a free copy of this book for an honest review. 4 stars, I really like it!




About the Author…



After successfully publishing two novels for grown-ups, Michael Scott Miller decided to pursue a dream of creating a book series for children. This creative journey led to the release of the first three books in the Twisted Oak Amateur Detectives series. Along the way, Michael developed a deep bond with his characters—Amanda, Melanie, Dontrelle, Tubby, and Tyler—and he is excited about taking them on more adventures.Prior to novel writing, Michael had his work published in the Welcomat (now Philadelphia Weekly) and wrote rock music reviews for the Wharton Journal while his wife was getting her degree there.Michael is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and currently resides in Lafayette Hill, PA, with his wife and three children.



Keep up with the young detectives…



Series website


Before you go, please let us know what you think of the books.  Maybe you or someone you know might enjoy this series. I think even the alliterative titles are fun to read! Thanks for visiting!

Share A Heart

Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.

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    All content is copyrighted and may not be used in any form without proper credit and links. For purposes other than charity or education, printed materials require prior written consent. Disclaimer: Most books were provided free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.