Nourishing fare for budding Encyclopedia Browns and even preteen Poirots.




Captions and cartoon drawings offer clues to the solutions of 23 brainteasers, from murders to missing exam questions, in this Spanish import.

Rated (arbitrarily) for difficulty and categorized as needing either “logic” or “imagination” to solve, the haphazardly arranged scenarios each feature a brief setup, two to 10 numbered duotone line drawings of participants (or, more often, suspects) with brief descriptive notes, and a solution hidden behind a glued-on flap. Along with classic posers such as the one about getting a dog, a chicken, and a bag of corn safely across a river, young Sherlocks are tasked with figuring out why only four of five men heading for a cemetery get wet in a sudden shower, how only one of two “mobsters” sharing iced drinks is poisoned, how young Katia is supposed to get a key out of a bottle without breaking glass or removing the cork, and, in several felonious situations, whose alibi doesn’t hold up. A few solutions will be greased with prior knowledge, but most are self-contained and well enough supplied with verbal or visual clues to require only a moment’s head-scratching. The ending comes on abruptly; Gallo compensates, at least in part, by opening with suggestions for turning these exercises into a family or team game and keeping score. Escandell’s caricatured human figures represent uniformly as white as the paper they are printed on.

Nourishing fare for budding Encyclopedia Browns and even preteen Poirots. (Novelty. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7713-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers.


From the Kate the Chemist series

A fifth grade girl brings her love of chemistry to the school play.

Kate loves science so much she’s determined to breathe fire. Of course she knows that she needs adult supervision, and so, with her science teacher’s help, Kate demonstrates an experiment with cornstarch and a blowtorch that nearly sets her teacher’s cactus on fire. Consequences ensue. Can someone who loves science as much as Kate does find pleasure spending her fall break at drama camp? It turns out that even the school play—Dragons vs. Unicorns—needs a chemist, though, and Kate saves the day with glue and glitter. She’s sabotaged along the way, but everything is fine after Kate and her frenemy agree to communicate better (an underwhelming response to escalating bullying). Doodles decorate the pages; steps for the one experiment described that can be done at home—making glittery unicorn-horn glue—are included. The most exciting experiments depicted, though, include flames or liquid nitrogen and could only be done with the help of a friendly science teacher. Biberdorf teaches chemistry at the University of Texas and also performs science-education programs as “Kate the Chemist”; in addition to giving her protagonist her name and enthusiasm, she also seems represented in Kate-the-character’s love of the fictional YouTube personality “Dr. Caroline.” Kate and her nemesis are white; Kate’s best friends are black and South Asian.

A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11655-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd.


From the Zach and Zoe Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Lupica kicks off a new series starring a pair of 8-year-old twins who solve sports-themed mysteries.

Even the pleasures of competing in various events during his school’s Spirit Week dim a smidge for Zach Walker when the prized autographed baseball he brings to his third-grade class for show and tell vanishes. Happily, his bookish but equally sports-loving sister, Zoe, is on the case, and by the time of the climactic baseball game at week’s end, she has pieced together clues and deductions that lead to the lost treasure—which had not been stolen but batted through an open window by the teacher’s cat and stashed in a storage shed by the custodian. In the co-published sequel, The Half-Court Hero, the equally innocuous conundrum hangs on the identity of the mysterious “guardian angel” who is fixing up a run-down playground basketball court. Along with plenty of suspenseful sports action, the author highlights in both tales the values of fair play, teamwork, and doing the “right thing.” The Walker family presents white, but in both the narrative and Danger’s appropriately bland (if inappropriately static) illustrations, the supporting cast shows some racial and ethnic diversity.

Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-28936-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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