ROBERT AND THE BACK-TO-SCHOOL SPECIAL

School is back in session for Robert Dorfman and his friends. Some things are the same as ever. Mrs. Bernthal is their teacher again and the same friends who have made this series so delightful are back as well. Robert is growing older and is becoming a little more sensitive about his looks, especially his amazingly curly, thick hair. When a girl in his class says he looks “different,” he frets about it. Robert decides he can’t wait for a haircut at the barbershop and talks his best friend, Paul, into clipping his hair. When his brother Charlie tries to fix the cut, the result is a lopsided short-and-long style. Brewer’s illustrations perfectly reflect both the hilarity and poignancy as Robert is forced to face the world with a “lumpy and bumpy” hairstyle. Robert still lacks the confidence he desires, and readers will identify with the small worries that plague him as he makes his way through the trials of growing up. Will people make fun of his hair? Will his Halloween party be a success? Will his friends think his father is weird when they see how he dresses and acts on Halloween? His warm but realistic family and down-to-earth teacher are there for him as he faces these challenges. Though Robert might characterize himself as strictly average, young readers will identify with and root for him at every turn. The cartoon illustrations add to the tight plot and realistic situations. Readers will be waiting for his further adventures. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8126-2662-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Cricket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd.

THE MISSING BASEBALL

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.

THE GREAT TOMB ROBBERY

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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