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The Case of the Portrait Vandal Book Review & Activities

The Case of the Portrait Vandal is just one of the many books in The Museum Mysteries, a series by Steve Brezenoff.

The books feature four friends solving crimes in the Capitol City museums where their parents work.

Disclosure: We received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes; however, all opinions are our own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

The Case of the Portrait Vandal takes place in the American History Museum where priceless artifacts are being vandalized. The young detectives work together to catch the culprit and clear Raining Sam from the suspect list.

The story is fast-paced and engaging as the reader gathers clues and makes (and revises) predictions along the way. Have students jot down notes or draw a picture as they read – tracking the rooms, the clues, and recording their own predictions.

Discussion questions and writing prompts are included in the back of the book. These are great for small group discussion and journal writing.

Interest Level:  Grades 3-6

Reading Level:  Grades 2-3

The Case of the Portrait Vandal

Share Fun Facts

Informational content weaves its way through the story as the kids search the museum for clues. It’s fun learning quick facts about the different flags of our country in the Flag Room, the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution in the Hall of Documents, famous Americans such as Sally Ride, Sacagawea, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Parade of Great Americans, and U.S. bills and coins in the Currency Hall.

Learn more about the American History Museum.

Museum Mysteries

Discuss Diversity & Acceptance

While they are working to solve the case, the culturally diverse detectives encounter situations involving prejudice and stereotyping. Raining Sam is referred to as “that Indian kid,” and Amal is told, “You’re wearing a headscarf. I know what that means.” Brezenoff has provided a great opportunity to bring these important issues into our conversations with children both during and after the story.

Analyze Positive Character Traits

Use our graphic organizer for identifying examples of strong character traits in the story. Click here for your free download!

Positive Character Traits

Check out more books in the Museum Mysteries series, as well as Brezenoff’s middle-grade chapter books- including the Field Trip Mysteries series, the Ravens Pass series of thrillers, and the Return to Titanic series.

The MCCBD team’s mission is to raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions.  The MCCBD team encourages readers, parents, teachers, caregivers, and librarians to follow the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, and multicultural children’s book linky via the hashtag #ReadYourWorld on Twitter and other social media.

The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press.  Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Hosts and you can view them here.


  1. jumpintoabook on January 27, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Happy Multicultural Children’s Book Day !!!!! Your activities with these books are fantastic. I think they’re fun reads too. Thanks for sharing and celebrating with us.

    • julieyeros on January 28, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      Thank you! What a great event – I was thrilled to be a part of it.

  2. Jennifer Brunk on January 29, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    This looks like such a fun series of books! I really appreciate your character activity too. Thank you for sharing the book and printable!

    • julieyeros on February 3, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks! After reviewing this one, I’m looking forward to checking out more of the books in this series.

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