This latest installment in the continuing comic adventures of 12-year-old fix-it artist Riley Mack (Riley Mack and the Other Known Trouble Makers, 2012) finds Riley trying to expose environmental polluters.
Megaclever Riley rights wrongs and thwarts evildoers. That’s good, since his town contains an assortment of evildoers, such as Mr. Paxton, the pompous head of the local country club and owner of Xylodyne Dynamics, a company that supplies pancake mix to American forces overseas. Riley’s helped in his endeavors by a trio of confederates. An actress and singer, Briana provides convincing voices that fool bad guys. Nerd extraordinaire Jamal supplies information, and Hubert, alias Mongo, adds the muscle. First, Riley needs to deal with Paxton’s daughter, who is trying to keep Briana out of a talent contest. Then the gang learns that their favorite swimming hole has been polluted by chemical runoff from Paxton’s golf course. Finally it’s revealed that the pancake mix in Afghanistan has been deliberately tainted. The authorities accuse Riley’s soldier dad, but Riley learns that the evidence lies buried in the golf course. Can Riley devise a plot to help Brianna win the talent contest, reveal the truth about the runoff and get his dad off the hook? Grabenstein keeps the comedy flowing and the pages turning. His characters are just goofy enough to entertain but not completely strain credulity—except, of course, for the over-the-top villain.
A lighthearted caper. (Fiction. 8-12)