Levinthal’s children’s-book debut lacks the laugh-out-loud silliness that is Margie Palatini and Richard Egielski’s mashup...




In language reminiscent of old-time-radio detective stories, Officer Binky narrates a few of his cases, which will be very familiar to young readers.

A call from Mrs. Bear sends Binky to his first crime scene: eaten porridge, broken chair, rumpled bed. “It could only be one dame: Goldilocks! I nabbed her trying to make her getaway….They’ll feed her three meals a day where she’s going.” A missing-person report has Binky driving to the Deep Dark Woods to investigate a woodcutter and his two children. It doesn’t take long for him to determine it was self-defense. An omelet leads the diminutive frog cop to Humpty’s killer, while the crime lab helps him solve the case of the poisoning of a beautiful girl by a beauty-pageant judge. The final case is less a mystery than an investigation into the cause of an explosion/earthquake. Luckily, some golden eggs are the hard evidence Binky needs to get the lieutenant to believe what happened. The acrylic artwork suits the noir atmosphere, somber colors and tension-filled scenes alternating with humorous details that match the tongue-in-cheek text. The one quibble is that Nickle’s people are rather stiff, with oddly shaped heads and strange facial expressions. Still, there is humor to appeal to all ages here.

Levinthal’s children’s-book debut lacks the laugh-out-loud silliness that is Margie Palatini and Richard Egielski’s mashup The Web Files (2001), but this will find an audience. (Fractured fairy tales. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-84195-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Questioneers fans will not be disappointed; new fans will find this outing a timely introduction to the series.


From the Questioneers series

The Questioneers are back for a new early chapter book, this one featuring Sofia Valdez, of Sofia Valdez, Future Prez (2019) fame.

Sofia and her friends from Miss Greer’s second grade class are back for another adventure. This time around, an election to select the new class pet offers lots of what Miss Greer likes to call Learning Experiences. Young civic activist Sofia is put in charge of managing the election, which pits candidates backed by two of her best friends against one another. Meanwhile, her cousin Marisella grapples with a pet problem of her own. Between friends and family, the election pulls Sofia in all directions, and she realizes that overseeing a fair election that runs smoothly proves to be a real challenge. Fortunately, she has sage advice from Abuelo and help from the local library to guide her. The short chapters and ample illustrations make for an accessible and entertaining early chapter book, full of fun and, yes, learning experiences. Extensive backmatter includes information on the importance of a free press, the true historical events behind Abuelo’s stories, and more information on how the voting process in the United States works. Sofia and her family have brown skin and are of Mexican heritage; her friends are diverse; and Miss Greer presents White. Marisella uses a wheelchair.

Questioneers fans will not be disappointed; new fans will find this outing a timely introduction to the series. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4350-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



From the Ballpark Mysteries series , Vol. 1

A new series for emerging chapter-book readers combines the allure of baseball parks with the challenge of solving a mystery. Mike and Kate have tickets to a Red Sox game and an all-access pass to the park, courtesy of Kate's mom, a sportswriter. The pass comes in handy when it's reported that star player Big D's lucky bat has been stolen, as it allows them to help find the thief. Historical details about Fenway Park, including the secret code found on the manual scoreboard, a look at Wally the mascot and a peek into the gift shop, will keep the young baseball fan reading, even when the actual mystery of the missing bat falls a little flat. Writing mysteries for very young readers is a challenge—the puzzle has to be easy enough to solve while sustaining readers' interest. This slight adventure is more baseball-park travel pamphlet than mystery, a vehicle for providing interesting details about one of the hallowed halls of baseball. Not a homerun, but certainly a double for the young enthusiast. On deck? The Pinstripe Ghost, also out on Feb. 22, 2011. (historical notes) (Mystery. 6-9)



Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86703-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet