September 24, 2009
When the prettiest girl in the fifth grade enlists Mickey Rangel’s help in clearing her name after a pen with presidential ties disappears following a routine show-and-tell, the young detective sets to work.
The tale of his crime-solving tactics — touted as officially sanctioned because of the badge and diploma he holds — is meant to appeal to Spanish and English-speaking elementary-aged students, said it’s author René Saldaña Jr. Saldaña will read a chapter of his mystery tale “The Case of the Pen Gone Missing” or “El Caso de la Pluma Perdida” at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Midland County Library. The presentation will be followed by a question and answer session as well as a reception and performances for the public, according to the Midland County Library.
With the book’s bilingual text, Saldaña said he hopes it can serve as a tool for teachers working to reach students from South or Central America.
Ensuring Spanish-speaking students achieve test scores of the same level as their native English-speaking peers, he said, is not a simple task.
But, said Saldaña, who taught in his South Texas hometown before earning a Ph.D. and teaching at the college-level, research suggests allowing kids to become good readers in their native language can be helpful in making them successful in English once they transition.
In his novel, he said, students can get a clear grasp on the plot line and characters of the tale in their native tongue. Then when they switch versions they can focus on understanding the language instead of the details of the tale.
After growing up reading the “Encyclopedia Brown” and “Hardy Boys” books, Saldaña said he wanted to craft a mystery novel that would grab young readers today. He currently serves as an assistant professor in the College of Education at Texas Tech University.