DIRK BONES AND THE MYSTERY OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE

The creator of Aunt Eater and Inspector Hopper opens a new easy-reader series featuring an even less conventional sleuth. Two specters haunting a house in the aptly named town of Ghostly are frightened by mysterious, un-ghostly clackings and clickings. Enter Dirk Bones, skeletal investigative journalist for the Ghostly Tombs. Properly outfitted in trench coat and green fedora, Bones sets out into a stormy night on a successful investigation that takes him from creepy basement to spooky graveyard, and includes encounters with a terrified werewolf, a vampire Emeril wannabe and other typical town residents—all easily recognizable but decidedly non-menacing figures in the cartoon illustrations. A burbling cauldron of “bat foot stew with crispy worm brains” is but one of the shivery delights that await emergent readers in this not-too-creepy caper. Stay tuned for sequels. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-073764-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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This funny, endearing addition to the series will delight early readers, especially dog lovers.

KING & KAYLA AND THE CASE OF THE LOST TOOTH

From the King & Kayla series

King and Kayla, the detective duo, are back to solve the mystery of Kayla’s missing tooth.

King, the happy and hilarious golden retriever narrator, anxiously awaits the return of his human, Kayla, who’s been at school for “eleventy seven hours. Maybe even eleventy seven days.” When Kayla finally arrives home, she has big news: She’s lost a tooth! Kayla is excited to use her class’s tooth-fairy pillow that night, but, alas, her tooth is missing! Though King discovers the pillow smells like turkey sandwiches (his favorite food), just like Kayla’s teeth, her tooth is nowhere to be found. The pair checks the car, the last place Kayla saw the tooth, and King finds lots of crumbs (more of his favorite foods) but no tooth. And so it goes, and Kayla must go to bed with an empty pillow. In the morning, Kayla finds a dollar, a dog treat, and a note from the tooth fairy even though her tooth wasn’t there. But when King notices the pillow still smells like turkey sandwiches, he’s found the final clue. Each page includes illustrations that are often humorous and highlight the affection between King and Kayla, who is depicted with brown skin and Afro-textured hair.

This funny, endearing addition to the series will delight early readers, especially dog lovers. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-56145-880-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A new chapter-book adventure series opens with a whimper.

THE GREAT ESCAPE

From the S.O.S.: Society of Substitutes series , Vol. 1

The mystery of missing class pets: Is something nefarious afoot?

Second grader Milton Worthy feeds the class ferret, Noah, before class begins and then doesn’t close the cage securely. When Noah escapes, that’s when things get odd. Mrs. Baltman sends them out for an unscheduled early recess, and when they return, she is gone. In her place is a substitute: Milton’s mother. Mrs. Worthy doesn’t behave like a normal sub, either. She sends some students on a ferret hunt while others are ordered to seek blueprints of the school. While the class is on yet another unscheduled recess, Milton hides to spy on his mother and discovers her great secret. His mother is a helmet-wearing secret agent sent from the Society of Substitutes to thwart Noah, an evil genius who intends to teleport everyone to Evil Pet Island. A distracting overuse of ellipses and a disjointed narrative are bound to make this a challenge for readers transitioning to chapter books; milestones appear at the end of each chapter, but use of devices such as questions or comments to boost reader engagement is inconsistent. A mix of prose with speech bubbles in the cartoon illustrations may appeal to readers comfortable with comics. Diversity is conveyed primarily through the illustrations, buttressed by naming convention; Mrs. Baltman, Milton’s mother, and Milton all present White, though the class as a whole appears more diverse.

A new chapter-book adventure series opens with a whimper. (prompts) (Adventure. 7-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-290929-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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