Maynard (Quiet, Wyatt!, 1999) makes fire the pivotal plot element in this short, episodic action novel. In the small village of McIntosh, Jed, the fire chief’s son, is branded a fire bug for a past transgression in which he accidentally burned down the family garage. Now, when a local swamp catches fire, he is the first to be blamed. Norm Dempsey, wannabe fire chief, is first to point the finger. Through a freak accident, Jed’s father lands in a coma in the hospital. A series of fires, a swamp fire, brush fire, barn fire, and school fire in the sports equipment room, forms a string of actions that make up the story. Toss in a few boyish pranks and some not-so-subtle clues and the story builds to its natural climax—an even bigger fire. This time, a monster train wreck sets the whole pond ablaze. Not surprisingly, Jed takes charge and steps in to rescue the day, the nursing home and surrounding houses, with a little help from his recuperating father, all in the name of saving face and proving that Norm Dempsey is behind the arsons. This fast-moving, predictable fare has some great action sequences, with appeal for mystery fans. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-399-23439-X

Page Count: 149

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000


Policeman Jack’s cat and dog team, Kitty and Belle, are an unusual crime-busting duo: Kitty is a shrewd mouser, while lazy Belle would rather sleep. When a wily burglar picks the lock and breaks into Policeman Jack’s house, Kitty jumps on top of the thief’s head, while Belle rouses from a nap to growl and chase the burglar out the door. They are rewarded with a TV appearance on the nightly news. In a tale told entirely in verse, the entrance of the burglar functions more as a device to break up the monotony than for building suspense or creating comedy. O’Malley saves the day with his portraits of the highly personable pets, including one picture of the appropriately sleepy Belle, bloodshot eye open amidst folds of fur. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8167-4952-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999


PLB 0-06-027720-3 A broadly comic, slapstick mystery. Seymour Sleuth is called to Borneo where Dr. Irene A. Tann (an orangutan) is searching for the Black Flower of Sumatra, which will cure hiccups. But her quest is being sabotaged’sand in the sugar bowl, knots in the underwear—and threatening notes are arriving. The intrepid Seymour and his faithful assistant and photographer Abbott Muggs search for clues and interview the other members of the camp: a reporter, a local guide, and Dr. Tann’s assistant. Among the clues: chocolate smudges on the notes, and a pin with someone’s initials. Seymour solves the mystery, accompanies the band through the monkey’s maze where they find the Black Flower and another surprise. All the characters are animals and the text is in Sleuth’s notebook printing, with photographs by Muggs attached along with realia like the map of Borneo and their plane tickets. It’s very lightweight, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and gives readers a funny first taste of some of the well-loved elements of mysteries. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-027719-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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