Possibly littered with Easter eggs from the game but not worth reading except by superfans of the game…if such exist.



From the Hello Neighbor series , Vol. 1

Raven Brooks is certainly an odd town, but Nick’s neighbors might be a bit more dangerous than odd.

Twelve-year-old Nick Roth has moved a lot with his newspaper-editor father and his college-professor mother. He’s never anywhere long enough to call it home or make a real friend. He’s happy when Aaron Peterson from across the street starts a dialogue holding up notes on paper to his bedroom window…and Aaron is even better at picking locks than Nick! (Because of course picking locks is a common hobby among preteens.) But Aaron’s family is strange, and his father alternates between charm and menace. The boys explore an abandoned factory with a hallway full of locked doors and a defunct amusement park tied to the town’s recent past. The longer Nick’s in town, the more he discovers that the recent past is not a happy one…and Aaron’s family appears to be tied to the tragedy that has marked Ravens Brook. Released as a “prequel” to the critically panned stealth-horror video game “Hello Neighbor,” West’s flimsy and uninteresting mystery leaves much to be desired. Nick’s family dynamic is nothing unique, but it is within a stone’s throw of reality—unlike most of the rest of the setup. Two-color illustrations by Heitz offer few clues to the contrived mystery but depict both Nick’s and Aaron’s families as white.

Possibly littered with Easter eggs from the game but not worth reading except by superfans of the game…if such exist. (Adventure. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-28007-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read.


The prolific king of the beach read is back with an intergenerational mystery for the 9-to-12-year-old set.

Ali Cross, the son of Patterson’s most famous creation, African American homicide detective Alex Cross, is “starting to think the worst might have happened” to his mixed-race friend Gabriel “Gabe” Qualls, who disappeared on Dec. 21 and hasn’t been heard from as of Christmas Eve, when the book opens. Ali offers an impromptu prayer for Gabe at the pre-holiday service at his all-black church as well as an impromptu press conference outside of it as journalists and paparazzi confront Alex about his alleged coma-inducing assault of a murder suspect’s father. Then someone robs the Crosses’ home that night along with four other homes; the Crosses’ Christmas gifts are stolen. Ali, obsessed with finding Gabe and feeling that these events will distract his dad and the police from searching for him, starts his own investigation—complete with looking at some contraband footage of Gabe’s unusually loaded backpack obtained by Ali’s stepmother, also a cop—and questioning his school and gaming pals, a diverse group. Writing in Ali’s voice with occasional cutaways to third-person chapters that follow Alex, Patterson sprinkles the narrative with pop-culture references even as he takes readers through the detective process.

Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53041-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.


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

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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