Robert and Paul want to become instant millionaires and are willing to do almost anything to achieve their goal. In this entertaining and amusing continuation of their series (Oh, No, It’s Robert, 1999), Seuling and Brewer put together a winning story sure to be welcomed by second and third graders who will read and reread it. Robert and Paul keep busy by memorizing the various volumes of the Weird and Wacky Facts books but are disappointed to learn that they are too young to qualify for the TV show. Their teacher, Mrs. Bernthal, comes to the rescue and proposes a contest between the girls and boys. The prize is not exactly a million bucks—it’s a class party for all, and the winning team sets the menu. Seuling’s situations are familiar and comforting: the class assignment in bridge design, the smart girl who knows everything, boys versus girls in an academic contest, and goofy but believable situations that reduce the main characters to giggling hysterics. Black-and-white illustrations add to the fun. Brewer’s drawings show big-haired characters sure to make readers laugh. A tube of toothpaste with Robert’s head as the hilarious paste illustrates the words “Robert felt a little bit like he was the toothpaste in a tube that was being squeezed.” Generous font, lots of white space, frequent amusing illustrations, and a familiar, yet intriguing storyline add up to a winning tale for new readers. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8126-2653-2

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Cricket

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.


Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A mystery, a school story, sibling rivalry and the loss of a pet blend surprisingly well in this engaging chapter book. Charmingly awkward fifth grader Edgar Allan decides to solve a series of minor thefts that are plaguing his teacher, Ms. Herschel. Clues are plentiful—and rhymed—but the competition to solve them is fierce. Edgar’s nemesis, Patrick Chen, seems to have the inside track since his dad works in forensics. Edgar, however, finds that the friends he makes along the way provide the winning edge. Including transcripts of Edgar’s ingenuous interviews as well as poems written by a number of class members in her narrative, Amato provides a clear picture of both social and family dynamics while keeping the story moving smoothly along. The author’s characteristic humor is somewhat muted, but examples of amusing wordplay abound. Some readers may guess the identity of the culprit more quickly than Edgar and his friends do, but whodunit is not really the point. Solving puzzles, making friends and learning to see the world more clearly are the true aims of this adventure. (Mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2271-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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