A tempest in a lunchbox, but just deserts are dished up in a lip-smacking denouement.


A young sleuth determinedly sets out to nab the thief who is spiriting sandwiches from his school lunchbox in this French Canadian import.

They are not just ordinary sandwiches. For one thing, Marin explains, his foodie mom makes the bread using flour “bought from a secret bakery run by kung fu monks.” For another, they’re delicious: ham, cheddar, and kale on Mondays; tuna, sundried tomatoes, and homemade mayo on Tuesdays, and so forth. Since the lunchbox has to stay out in the hall with everyone else’s, he can’t watch it directly—but he can complain (fruitlessly) to the principal, set traps, look for clues, and consider possible suspects. Doyon illustrates Marin’s campaign in jaggedly angular scenes highlighted with areas of gray and an orangey red that reflects the bereft lad’s sustained outrage. Blocks of first-person narration and dialogue in a “handwritten” typeface floating in the spacious margins add to the episode’s overall informal look. The limited palette makes it hard to discern skin color: when the characters are not stark white, they may be yellow. In the end, the culprit is revealed and justice served at once thanks to a sandwich laced with “flavor balls” tasting of “dirt-tar-soap-cough-syrup-cat-pee-chalk-vomit.” Ew.

A tempest in a lunchbox, but just deserts are dished up in a lip-smacking denouement. (Graphic fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-4659-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff


From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Superb storytelling.


When Bug’s traditional summer routine is shaken up, her entire life changes.

It’s 1987, and 10-year-old Beatrice “Bug” Contreras has a plan: spend her summer months with her brother, Danny, on Venice Beach as she has for the past two years. But when 14-year-old Danny—who has matured into the name Daniel—wants more time to himself, Bug learns she will be instead hanging out with 11-year-old Frankie, the nephew of Phillip, her mother’s best friend and their upstairs neighbor. Frankie, who is visiting from Ohio, is trans at a time before this identity was well understood and has not been treated with kindness or acceptance by his parents. Frankie and Bug become fascinated with trying to solve the case of the Midnight Marauder, a serial killer who has been striking in the area. When Phillip is attacked, ending up in the hospital, their investigation swivels, and the titular characters uncover a few untold family tales. Bug and Daniel’s late father was a professor from El Salvador with Indigenous ancestry who spoke Nahuatl as well as Spanish and English. Biracial identity is explored in part through the differences in the siblings’ physical appearances: Their mother is implied to be White, and Daniel—who resembles their father more than Bug does—experiences more overt racism and dives into an exploration of his Salvadoran heritage. Readers interested in complex emotional development and relationships will appreciate each character's subtle nuances.

Superb storytelling. (resources, author’s note) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8253-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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