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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THE HIGH-RISE PRIVATE EYES

THE CASE OF THE PUZZLING POSSUM

Bunny Brown and Jack Jones, ace detectives, join forces again to solve their third easy-reader mystery in this snappy new series from Newbery Medalist Rylant, author of the beloved Henry and Mudge books. Bunny the bunny is the practical brains of the detective duo, and Jack the raccoon is her humorous sidekick, who is even funnier in this book than in the previous volumes, The Case of the Missing Monkey (not reviewed) and The Case of the Climbing Cat (2000). In this case, Bunny and Jack solve the chronic disappearance (and reappearance) of a trombone from a neighborhood music store. The puzzling possum of the title, Freddy, has been repeatedly "borrowing" the trombone so he can play at hayride entertainments with Gus's Big Brass Boys. Bunny and Jack nab him red-handed, and Bunny offers the practical solution of paying for the trombone by giving lessons at the music store. The combination easy-reader, easy-mystery follows the established format of a few clues, a mild neighborhood mystery, and lots of clever puns and jokes that will delight the intended audience. The humor is exactly on track for the early elementary grades, including a squashed marshmallow on Jack's seat and a quick rush to the bathroom following some dizzying explanations by the music-store owner (just the sort of jokes first graders adore). Karas's engaging illustrations in acrylic, gouache, and pencil help create unique personalities for Bunny and Jack. It's no mystery why this series is successful, and this endearing duo seems destined to crack many more cases of minor mischief in their urban neighborhood. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2001

ISBN: 0-688-16308-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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Young readers will be happy to make Azaleah’s acquaintance.

THE AMAZING LIFE OF AZALEAH LANE

From the Azaleah Lane series

When her baby sister, Tiana, realizes her favorite stuffed frog, Greenie, is missing, Azaleah promises to help her find him—but will she have enough time to help Tiana and complete her school project?

Third grader Azaleah Lane is anxious to get home and start her diorama of Nikita the tiger after a visit to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. However, before she can get started, she must help Tiana find Greenie. Oldest sister Nia is of little help, as she’s busy preparing to play Dorothy in her middle school production of The Wiz. In order to complete her diorama and help Tiana solve the mystery of Greenie’s disappearance, Azaleah must prioritize her tasks and pay attention to the clues around her. This inaugural book in the Azaleah Lane series is a fast-paced and fun read, and Azaleah is a sympathetic, likable narrator who, like readers, is learning new vocabulary all the time. She thinks aloud as she works to solve the mystery, occasionally (and realistically) losing patience with the sobbing Tiana. Lobo’s playful, full-color illustrations every few pages are just enough to give transitioning readers needed rests so they’ll keep going; they depict Azaleah and her family as black. The backmatter includes a glossary of vocabulary words, book-discussion and writing prompts, and instructions for making a diorama.

Young readers will be happy to make Azaleah’s acquaintance. (Mystery. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5158-4464-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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