THE MALTED FALCON

The metaphors fly thicker than flies on ripe garbage in fourth-grade gumshoe Chet Gecko’s seventh schoolyard caper. It’s a tangled web indeed for Chet and mockingbird sidekick Natalie Attired: a prizewinning ticket good for a year’s worth of jumbo desserts from a local mall’s sweet shop has been stolen—but by whom, and for that matter, from whom? Suspects abound, from shifty prairie dog Freddie Nostrils and compulsive liar Lili Padd to Sally Monella, tough girlfriend of burly marmot Bert “Sounds like a colorful character” Umber. Being the gourmandizing gecko that he is, Chet takes an intense personal interest in the case—particularly after he’s kidnapped by hulking muskrat minions of a shadowy “Mr. Big.” Tucking in an occasional black-and-white drawing to mark the high (or low) points, Hale propels his tough-talking shamus all over Emerson Hickey Elementary in search of clues (and snacks), then wraps up the mystery with a kidnapping and a brisk dustup. A teacher turns out to be the real villain, and Chet is left at the end weighing whether to turn the recovered ticket over—or in. The sleuth with the smart mouth shows no signs of slowing down (or graduating, for that matter), and should continue to draw fans like fleas to a dog show. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-15-216706-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.

A GIRL, A RACCOON, AND THE MIDNIGHT MOON

This is the way Pearl’s world ends: not with a bang but with a scream.

Pearl Moran was born in the Lancaster Avenue branch library and considers it more her home than the apartment she shares with her mother, the circulation librarian. When the head of the library’s beloved statue of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is found to be missing, Pearl’s scream brings the entire neighborhood running. Thus ensues an enchanting plunge into the underbelly of a failing library and a city brimful of secrets. With the help of friends old, uncertainly developing, and new, Pearl must spin story after compelling story in hopes of saving what she loves most. Indeed, that love—of libraries, of books, and most of all of stories—suffuses the entire narrative. Literary references are peppered throughout (clarified with somewhat superfluous footnotes) in addition to a variety of tangential sidebars (the identity of whose writer becomes delightfully clear later on). Pearl is an odd but genuine narrator, possessed of a complex and emotional inner voice warring with a stridently stubborn outer one. An array of endearing supporting characters, coupled with a plot both grounded in stressful reality and uplifted by urban fantasy, lend the story its charm. Both the neighborhood and the library staff are robustly diverse. Pearl herself is biracial; her “long-gone father” was black and her mother is white. Bagley’s spot illustrations both reinforce this and add gentle humor.

The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.   (reading list) (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6952-1

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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POWERLESS

From the Supers of Noble's Green series , Vol. 1

Resembling a Golden Age comic without the pictures, this tale pits a group of small-town children with superpowers—call them “preteen titans”—against a shadowy menace that robs them of those powers on their 13th birthdays. Coming to town with his family to care for his dying grandma, Daniel quickly spots his neighbor Mollie and her friends performing incredible feats. Soon he’s in their confidence, as they demonstrate combinations of super-speed, super-strength, enhanced senses and the ability to turn invisible. All of them can also hear the clock ticking, however. Gifted not with superpowers but a sharp mind and a fondness for Sherlock Holmes stories, Daniel sets out to discover how and why his new friends, like generations of their predecessors, are being robbed of their abilities. Where those abilities come from never enters in, but the obligatory wily supervillain does, leading to a titanic climactic battle. Cody wears his influences on his sleeve, but has some fun with them (one lad’s “power” is a super-stench) and crafts a tribute that, unlike M.T. Anderson’s Whales On Stilts (2005), is more admiring than silly. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-85595-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2009

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