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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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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May Ra the Mighty (and friends) solve many more ancient mysteries.


From the Ra the Mighty series , Vol. 2

The Pharaoh’s pampered cat loves his snacks, his naps, and many other royal privileges.

Ra the Mighty is also lazy, vain, and entirely self-centered. He once solved a mystery and is exceedingly proud to have done so, considering himself a Great Detective (Ra the Mighty: Cat Detective, 2018). But he has no burning desire to become involved in a case now, especially if it would interfere with those naps and snacks. But a Great Mystery is thrust upon him when he travels to Thebes to be measured for his place in Pharaoh’s planned tomb. The tomb of Pharaoh’s ancestor—and of Ra’s own forebear—has been robbed. Reluctantly, Ra and his more-eager cohorts, Miu the kitchen cat and Khepri the scarab beetle, narrow their list of suspects and discover clues amid daring deeds and dastardly betrayals. To add insult to injury, Ra is mistaken for an ordinary cat when the evil Vizier sends a substitute to Pharaoh, and he must make do with ordinary food and a great deal of dirt and discomfort, complaining all the way. Of course innocents are saved, guilty ones are punished, and the Great Detectives triumph. Greenfield keeps the action fast-paced, seamlessly weaving in much information about ancient Egypt, and the interactions among the distinctive and delightful characters are hilarious. Horne’s elongated and exaggerated black-and-white illustrations add to the fun.

May Ra the Mighty (and friends) solve many more ancient mysteries. (glossary of names, note, author’s note) (Historical fantasy/mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4240-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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