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Diary of a Social Detective

  1. The social world can often be a mystery, even to the smartest of individuals.  While social relationships are frequently an incredible source of joy and satisfaction, they are equally a common source of frustration and confusion.  What is someone to do if their entire social world is a mystery to them?  How is a person supposed to proceed in life if they truly do not understand why others act the way they do, or how they are supposed to behave with others in order to fit in? 

  2. While Diary of a Social Detective is first and foremost a detective/mystery book for young readers, it is also a book that addresses these often unspoken questions and offers clear-cut, practical strategies for solving social mysteries.  This book is very different from other books that help kids with social skills.  Instead of dry, theoretical solutions to social problems, Diary of a Social Detective delivers insights, tools and solutions with a very engaging storyline that kids can relate to.  As a result, it has appeal not just for kids in need of social tools but for a wider group of children who are simply in search of engaging reading material. 

  3. The book begins with a chronicle of Johnny’s personal transformation from social misfit to the most socially savvy kid in school.  This transformation motivates Johnny to help others solve their own social mysteries, so he starts the first ever social detective agency and becomes the Encyclopedia Brown of the social world.  The remainder of the book involves cases taken directly from Johnny’s detective notebook.  All the cases are set up to allow the reader to use their own social detective skills to solve the mysteries.  At the end of each story there is a section called ‘Cracking the Case’ in which Johnny solves the social mystery and offers practical solutions to the social dilemmas that are presented in each case. 

  4. For more about the author, click here: Jeffrey E. Jessum, Ph.D.

  1. Dr. Jeff Jessum’s practical, smart, and funny book gives kids a fun way to understand social cues and situations, build their own social and emotional intelligence, and become problem-solvers in their complex social world.  I’m thrilled to be able to use Diary of a Social Detective as a tool with the children in my psychotherapy practice, and with my own kids as well.

  2. Tina Brison, Ph.D.

  About the book


  1. Excerpt 1

  2. In the beginning, all Johnny had wanted was to fit in and not be Johnny Strange. But in time he realized that his destiny involved something much bigger. His destiny was bigger than earning the title of Johnny Smooth. His destiny involved helping others by starting the first ever detective agency dedicated to solving social mysteries.

  3. Johnny started small, offering his services to a select number of kids who desperately needed his help. But before long, the news of what he was doing had spread, and he became somewhat legendary at schools and neighborhoods far and wide. Kids from all over, and even adults, would come to Johnny and ask him if he would help them with their social mysteries.

  4. The stories that follow are real cases taken from Johnny’s detective journal. While the cases are real, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

  5. As you follow Johnny on his cases, see if you can solve the mystery yourself. Following Johnny’s steps for solving social mysteries will help you figure out the cases. You can use the “Procedures for Solving Social Mysteries Checklist” to guide you in your detective work.

  6. Excerpt 2

  7. It was Wednesday morning, and the weather outside was perfect. Sunlit clouds speckled a deep blue sky, and a gentle wind inspired the treetops to dance. It was the kind of weather that made even the most serious kid daydream about all the things he could be doing, if he were only on the other side of that big classroom window.

  8. I was sitting in math learning about numbers and all the things they can do, when the kid next to me started talking. His name was Dimsly Overhead. At first I didn’t realize Dimsly was talking to me. His voice was quiet, and he was staring at the floor.

  9. “I don’t get it,” he said. “I don’t get what’s so funny about me. I just don’t get it. Do you have any idea what might be so funny?”

  10. I looked around to see if there was someone else he might be talking to. There was no one.

  11. “Are you talking to me?” I whispered, trying to stay undetected by teacher radar.

  12. “Yeah, Johnny. Yeah, I wanna know what you think about it,” he said in a mumbly voice.

  13. “Dimsly … what on earth are you talking about?” I asked.

  14. “You know. Kids always think I’m funny, but I’m not sure why. I mean, I’m not trying to be funny. And I don’t really think I’m all that funny. But they all seem to think I am. You’re the detective, right? So can you detective me, or something?”

  15. I was intrigued. Accidentally funny. That definitely sounded like a mystery. I told Dimsly to meet me after class to discuss the case further. I didn’t think that Mrs.. Krabington would appreciate us solving social mysteries while she was trying to help us solve number mysteries. There was a reason she had the nickname “The Krabinator,” and the last place anyone would want to be was in the line of fire of her krabinicious krabittude.

  1. “Engaging Charming!

  2. Funny! Wise! Just ‘naughty’ enough for all kids to become hooked on Johnny the Strange turned Johnny the Smooth. A must-read for children with social struggles. While enjoying a good story, children learn  how to reflect upon 

  3. themselves as they 

  4. observe others; how to read body language and social cues; how to deal with bullies and loudmouths. Most important, kids are taught to take responsibility for their impact on others.”

  5. – Terry Marks-Tarlow, Ph.D., author of Psyche's Veil: Psychotherapy, Fractals and Complexity and Creativity Inside Out

  1. “Jeff Jessum has made an important breakthrough in the teaching of social skills.  His creative and imaginative stories incorporating the best practices in social problem solving are compelling, interesting and kid-friendly.  The concept of social skills requiring detective work will help children at risk for social issues actively apply the principles for effective social problem solving.  This book provides an important new tool for parents, educators and therapists in providing sound practice to practical situations.” 

  2. – Robert Colegrove, Ed.D., psychologist working with children and  families; affiliated  with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

  1. “This witty, captivating set of social mystery cases is interactive and full of interesting and helpful information. Readers can try to solve the cases right along with Johnny, the clever social detective. Written for youth, this book is a great tool for any child who struggles to relate with peers.”

  2. – Judith Coucouvanis, MA, PMHCNS-BC, University of Michigan; author of Super Skills: A Social Skills Group Program for Children with Asperger Syndrome, High-Functioning Autism and Related Challenges and award-winning The Potty Journey: Guide to Toilet Training Children with Special Needs, Including Autism and Related Disorders

  1. Diary of a Social Detective is a wonderful and unique book. It will make a great addition to any social skills program striving to teach social cognition to youth on the autism spectrum.

  2. In particular, the social mysteries presented in the book, and the systematic process provided to solve them, show great promise in our efforts to effectively teach perspective taking, social problem solving and knowledge of social rules. I am looking forward to adding it to our ‘intervention tool chest’ at the Social Skills Research Center.”

  3. – Scott Bellini, Ph.D., HSPP, director, Social Skills Research Center, research and clinical director, Indiana Resource Center for Autism; author of  the award-winning Building Social Relationships: A Systematic Approach to Teaching Social Interaction Skills to Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Social Difficulties

  1. Diary of a Social Detective is a wonderfully entertaining way of learning about the

  2. complex social world. In addition to teaching how to solve social mysteries using

  3. 10 easy steps, Jeffrey Jessum provides readers with entertaining stories that further

  4. illustrate the social mystery-solving process. This resource will be very helpful to

  5. many children and adults alike.”

  6. – Kelly Mahler, M.S., OTR/L, pediatric therapist, speaker and author of Hygiene and Related Behaviors for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders: A Fun Curriculum with a Focus on Social Understanding

  1. Diary of a Social Detective at first glance seems like a simple kids’  book, but in 

  2. reality it contains powerful information and strategies for children and youth

  3. who struggle to understand social interactions.  I highly recommend this book to educators, parents and others who teach social skills to students on the autism spectrum. The book is written in a way that engages students in assisting the

  4. detective as he solves different cases.”   

  5. – Annette Wragge, M.Ed., state coordinator, NE ASD Network; co-author, 2010 Hidden Curriculum One-A-Day Calendar for Kids – Items for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations

  1. “This innovative book enables children to self-identify their own social skills

  2. mysteries; it is a fantastic resource that offers myriad ways in which children can

  3. navigate and negotiate their unique social mazes. Diary of a Social Detective is a great 

  4. resource and tool to use within the

  5. curriculum to 

  6. build the confidence of  students who face 

  7. social skills 

  8. difficulties, as well as to create a culture of empathy  among both their peers and teachers.”

  9. – Barbara Hitchcock, assistant principal, Laurel Hall School,

  10. North Hollywood, CA

  1. What people

  2. are saying...