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NOOKS & CRANNIES

A plucky amateur detective, secret passages, exaggerated characters, concealed identities, and dastardly villains equal a...

When 11-year-old Tabitha Crum receives a mysterious invitation for a weekend visit with the reclusive Countess of Windermere at Hollingsworth Hall circa 1907, she uncovers a diabolical plot that changes her life.

In the grand tradition of Roald Dahl, Tabitha’s despicable, neglectful parents force her to sleep in the attic and wear outgrown school uniforms. Her only friend’s a pet mouse. Before Tabitha departs for Hollingsworth, her parents announce they are leaving and sending her to an orphanage as soon as her visit is over. When Tabitha arrives at Hollingsworth, she meets five more clueless kids. Influenced by Inspector Pensive novels, Tabitha readily shifts into detective mode when the eccentric countess reveals she will be interviewing each child to determine which one is her missing grandchild, destined to inherit £100,000. During the isolation imposed by a freak snowstorm, an elderly maid dies under suspicious circumstances, ghostly groans echo behind walls, the countess becomes disturbingly nasty, and children disappear. Dauntlessly exploring nooks and crannies, Tabitha unravels the twisted, shocking truth and finds a real family and friends. Themes of friendship and family permeate this darkly humorous, melodramatic period thriller. Sketchy black-and-white illustrations add to the macabre mood.

A plucky amateur detective, secret passages, exaggerated characters, concealed identities, and dastardly villains equal a swell mystery. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1921-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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FAKER

Glitzy glimpses of life on the make, lightened by a focus on alternatives rather than consequences.

A con man’s son yearns for a different way of life.

Having helped his single dad fleece wealthy marks since kindergarten, Trey is adept at spotting their rich offspring in each new school he attends and cultivating them until the time comes for a quick getaway. Now that he’s 12, though, the urge to make real friends and put down some roots has become insistent—particularly since he’s drawn to Kaylee, a new classmate in his latest middle school. How can he convince his dad, who’s in the midst of luring local investors into a fantastically lucrative scheme involving a fictive electric car, that it’s time to bag the family profession and settle down? Korman goes more for ironic humor than the physical or stand-up sort in this book, as shown by Trey’s enrollment in an ethics class that forces him into some decidedly hypocritical stances. Much like Trey himself, instant new bestie Logan and his parents turn out to be not at all who they seem. And though there are no bullies or real baddies in the cast on the way to the story’s rosy but implausible resolution, Trey’s malign, high-strung, and wildly reckless huckster of a little sister from hell definitely adds both conflict and suspense to this provocative outing. Main characters read white.

Glitzy glimpses of life on the make, lightened by a focus on alternatives rather than consequences. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781338826753

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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