THE MAN WITH THE RED BAG

Bunting tackles a distasteful subject—the power of suspicion and prejudice over the minds of otherwise ordinary people—through the eyes of a 12-year-old on a post-9/11 spring-break bus tour with his grandmother. The tour to the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore serves as background for Kevin’s vigilant observation of one of the other passengers—a man with a dark complexion, Greek name and a red bag he won’t put down. Kevin and Geneva, a young girl on the trip, imagine that Mr. Stavros is carrying a bomb and has evil intentions, and the two of them, along with one of the adult passengers, chew relentlessly on their suspicions. Though Bunting keeps the pace quick and handles her briefly sketched characters with a sure hand (except for an occasional stumble over slang), the plot wears thin. A perceptive reader will anticipate the sad and simple answer long before the tidy ending reveals the reason that the contents of his bag are so important to him. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-081828-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2007

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS

In the fine old tradition of James Marshall's Cut-Ups, Pilkey (God Bless the Gargoyles, 1996, etc.) introduces George Beard and Harold Hutchins, two usually responsible fourth-graders, as in ``whenever anything bad happened, George and Harold were usually responsible.'' Pranksters of the first order, George and Harold are finally nabbed by Mr. Krupp, the principal, whom they then hypnotize into believing he's Captain Underpants, a superhero of their own creation. Before they can stop him, he's out the window in cape and briefs, off to fight crime with Wedgie Power, taking on bank robbers, robot thieves—`` `You know,' said George, `up until now this story was almost believable!' ''—and ultimately the evil Dr. Diaper. Distracting Dr. Diaper with some ``fake doggy doo- doo,'' the boys save the planet, then hustle Krupp back into his clothes, just in time for—their next adventure, The Attack of the Talking Toilets, coming soon. Pilkey's stubby black-and-white cartoon figures appear on every page but can be animated in one chapter, thanks to ``Flip-O-Rama,'' where readers flip pages back and forth for the ``latest in cheesy animation technology.'' There'll be no silence in the library once readers get hold of this somewhat classier alternative to Barf-o-Rama books and their crude ilk. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-84627-2

Page Count: 121

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1997

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