Room One: A Mystery or Two

by Andrew Clements (Author) Mark Elliott (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade
Ted Hammond loves a good mystery, and in the spring of his fifth-grade year, he's working on a big one. How can his school in the little town of Plattsford stay open next year if there are going to be only five students? Out here on the Great Plains in western Nebraska, everyone understands that if you lose the school, you lose the town.

But the mystery that has Ted's full attention at the moment is about that face, the face he sees in the upper window of the Andersons' house as he rides past on his paper route. The Andersons moved away two years ago, and their old farmhouse is empty, boarded up tight. At least it's supposed to be.

A shrinking school in a dying town. A face in the window of an empty house. At first these facts don't seem to be related. But Ted Hammond learns that in a very small town, there's no such thing as an isolated event. And the solution of one mystery is often the beginning of another.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review
Clements ("Frindle") introduces 12-year-old Ted, a likable lad who reads multiple mysteries each week -and insists on solving each midway through the book. (Then he reads the second half to see if he was right.) But now the Nebraska boy finds himself surrounded by real-life mysteries. "It's a mystery to me," says his father, wondering how the family will keep the farm if the price of beef continues to drop and the price of fuel keeps rising. And how can Ted's school (which has only nine students in a single room) survive, given the town's shrinking population ("if the school died, the town died too")? The newest mystery plaguing Ted concerns a face he sees in the window of a deserted farmhouse while on his morning paper route. The aspiring detective decides that this is one mystery he intends to solve on his own. Clements threads some authentic, topical themes into the meaning behind the face in the window (concerning the family of a soldier who died fighting in Iraq), and Ted demonstrates not only his intelligence but his compassion as he helps the family in distress, plus the challenges of keeping the family's presence secret in such a small town. Like every good mystery, this one has an unexpected conclusion. Once again Clements captures real people and real issues, as he shapes another fine work of fiction. Ages 8-12. "(July)" Copyright 2006 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 4-6 -Red Prairie Learning Center has only 10 students and is facing possible closing unless more families move to the small Nebraska town. Ted, the only sixth grader, loves mysteries, so when he sees a girl -s face at the window of a supposedly abandoned farmhouse, he decides to investigate. He meets April, who tells him that ever since her dad died in Iraq, someone has been stalking their family. She and her mother and younger brother were heading for a relative -s place out west when their car broke down. Now they are stranded and are worried about who might be following them. Ted pledges not to turn the family in and agrees to bring them food and supplies. In all the mystery stories that he has read, young detectives don -t need interfering grown-ups. However, this is real life, and he begins to wonder if he can handle the situation on his own. But whom can he trust -and what about his promise to keep the fugitives - secret? The story explores the potential conflict between promises and duty. There is a good balance of seriousness and humor with brisk, realistic dialogue and observations. Small black-and-white illustrations emphasize key points in the plot. Clements -s usual excellent sense of character is evident. Both adults and young people are multidimensional, with true-to-life emotions and concerns. There is also a strong message about responsibility and individual courage. The conclusion is unexpected but satisfying, as both the lost family and the struggling town find hope for the future. -"Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL" Copyright 2006 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Andrew Clements
Andrew Clements (1949-2019) was the author of the enormously popular Frindle. More than 10 million copies of his books have been sold, and he was nominated for a multitude of state awards, including a Christopher Award and an Edgar Award. His popular works include About Average, Troublemaker, Extra Credit, Lost and Found, No Talking, Room One, Lunch Money, and more. He was also the author of the Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School series. Find out more at

Adam Stower has a rich imagination and loves fantasy and adventure stories. He studied illustration at the Norwich School of Art and Design and at the University of Brighton, and lives with his daughter in Brighton, England.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date
July 20, 2006
Edgar Allan Poe Awards
Winner 2007 - 2007
Agatha Awards
Nominee 2006 - 2006
North Carolina Children's Book Award
Nominee 2008 - 2008
Volunteer State Book Awards
Nominee 2008 - 2009
Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Award
Nominee 2009 - 2009
Charlie May Simon Children's Book Award
Nominee 2008 - 2009
South Carolina Childrens, Junior and Young Adult Book Award
Nominee 2008 - 2009
Golden Sower Award
Honor Book 2009 - 2009
Young Hoosier Book Award
Nominee 2009 - 2009
Young Reader's Choice Award
Nominee 2009 - 2009
Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award
Nominee 2010 - 2010

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!