STAMP SAFARI

From the Max Booth Future Sleuth series

His third outing sends 25th-century ragamuffin Max on a dramatic rescue mission.

Investigating the nature of a small, sticky square that bears the likeness of ancient tennis superstar Neptune Williams forces Max to descend from Skyburb 6 to smoggy but prosperous Bluggsville. There, not only are he and his airborne kind reviled as “shadies,” but his beloved beagle-bot falls into the clutches of archnemesis Capt. Selby and is shipped off to be reprogrammed. There’s nothing for it but to sneak back into the drab vocational institution from which he had escaped two years before and save his prized robo-pooch. With help from friends and a bit of techno-wizardry, he carries the caper off with aplomb. But the mysterious artifact fizzles, as no one really wants it except Max’s ex-roomie Brandon, who just happens to be a Neptune Williams fan and in an anticlimactic exchange casually identifies it as a postage stamp. Neither the narrative nor Atze’s cartoon drawings (in which all the human figures except Brandon, a few background faces, and the long-dead Williams are white) add enough detail to make the setting more than vaguely futuristic, and the prejudice against class rather than race may ring oddly in American ears (the series is an Australian import). Still, independent readers might find the rescue’s chases, escapes, and mild suspense absorbing. Macintosh tacks a disquisition on postage stamps to the end.

A mild futuristic caper. (Science fiction/mystery. 7-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5383-8468-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: West 44 Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

DANGER! TIGER CROSSING

From the Fantastic Frame series , Vol. 1

Two kids get up close and personal with some great works of art in this first in a new series.

Tiger Brooks is used to his little sister’s fantastical stories. So when the top-hatted orange pig she describes turns out to be not only real, but a next-door neighbor, Tiger enlists the help of his kooky new friend, Luna, to investigate. It turns out the pig works for the reclusive painter Viola Dots. Years ago a magical picture frame swallowed up her only son, and she’s searched for him in artworks ever since. When Tiger’s tinkering starts the magic up again, he and Luna are sucked into a reproduction of Henri Rousseau’s Surprised! or Tiger in a Tropical Storm, hungry predator and all. After meeting and failing to rescue Viola’s son in this adventure, the series is set up for the intrepid pair to infiltrate other classic paintings in the future. Backmatter provides information on the real Rousseau and his life. Oliver keeps the plot itself snappy and peppy. While there are few surprises, there’s also an impressive lack of lag time. This is helped in no small part by Kallis’ art, which goes from pen-and-ink drawings to full-blown color images once the kids cross over into the painting. Tiger is a white boy, and Luna is a dark-haired Latina.

Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-448-48087-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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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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