Another highly entertaining Tanner-Dent investigation.

READ REVIEW

WHIZ TANNER AND THE SECRET TUNNEL

From the A Tanner-Dent Mystery series

In this third adventure in a series, two sixth-grade detectives investigating a mysterious DeLorean discover a hidden tunnel and nefarious shenanigans.

When a schoolyard argument ensues over whether someone really was pushing a DeLorean into Farmer Zimmer’s barn near the abandoned secret Air Force antenna station, the kids know who can provide the answers: the Tanner-Dent Detective Agency, consisting of sixth-graders Wilson “Whiz” Tanner and Joey Dent, who narrates the book. (They also know enough to make a Back to the Future reference.) With their well-equipped secret crime lab and Whiz’s “super-duper brainpower,” the duo has already solved several mysteries in Jasper Springs that confounded local police. After dodging some bulls in Farmer Zimmer’s field, the agents do discover the DeLorean in his barn—along with some puzzling elements, like a large hole with a ladder in it. Further surveillance shows that Donald and Cal, two suspicious men, are digging a tunnel toward the Air Force station in order to steal a large safelike object for an unknown buyer. With adults hard to convince, the boys know it’s up to them to nail the thieves, so they conceive a daring, technologically advanced, and patriotic plan to expose the villainous plot, hoping once again to show the power of meddling kids. Rexroad (Whiz Tanner and the Vanishing Diamond, 2018, etc.) provides another pleasing entry in this series, which, despite its modern setting has the vintage feel of Donald J. Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown books or Robert Anthony Jr.’s Three Investigators series. This is partly due to the lack of any real danger in the story as well as Joey’s love of root-beer floats, plus Jasper Springs’ poor cellphone coverage—meaning old-fashioned communication difficulties (that happen to be convenient for the plot). But Rexroad does introduce modern investigative tools and techniques like geotagging, drones, and pattern-recognition programs, which are used to good effect in solving the mystery. The book moves at a cracking pace with several exciting episodes that require courage and resourcefulness from Whiz and Joey, leading to an ending that’s pure satisfaction. Joey, an ordinary, sports-loving kid, supplies a relatable narrative voice that makes a good contrast with Whiz’s precise diction and brainy vocabulary.

Another highly entertaining Tanner-Dent investigation.

Pub Date: April 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-946650-04-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Rexroad International

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.

BEHIND THE BLUE

A fan of magic and her reluctant companion embark on an adventure when the mysterious Blue Man charges them with a mission.

Little Katherine contemplates what exists behind the scrim of the sky, and she gets her answer after she meets a boy named Charlie, who literally runs into her upon fleeing a blue man and a talking salamander he encounters in the nearby forest. The man is non-threatening, and asks the two to help him recover some lost items, to which Katherine heartily agrees. He doesn’t provide much information, however, so once she and Charlie enter this enchanted universe, they must take it upon themselves to figure out what the Blue Man has lost and how to go about helping him find it. With the help of guides like snarky, enigmatic Gerald and good-natured Frank, the children travel through very deep puddles to different realms behind the clouds, learning about the Blue Man’s nemesis, Grey Lady, who may have snatched his magical dragon stones. Schilling’s well drawn, vibrant world elevates his story above the standard adventure quest. His lively, amusing dialogue complements a fantastical world where fish flit through the air like bees (and may accidentally transport you elsewhere), manta rays make shy cabbies, crushed flowers pop back to life and magic permeates everything. While adults will find the narrative captivating, this book is tailor-made for storytime read-alouds.

An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.

Pub Date: July 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-595-36189-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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THE BANISHED

In a prequel to The Ice Bear (1986), Siri’s people live in the frozen Starkland settlement, residing peacefully with the primitive Furfolk, who communicate by whuffles and grunts. Siri’s Uncle Thorvald plans to convince the king to rescind their people’s banishment to that remote arctic isle with the gift of an ice bear and its cubs. To do this he needs the help of his friend, a Furfolk man, who can handle the bear on the long sea journey; Siri accompanies them disguised as one of the Furfolk man’s children. But when the king insists that the Furfolk man stay with the bear, Thorvald is forced to betray his friend for the sake of his people, while Siri chooses to betray Thorvald for her new Furfolk friends. Her allegiances have shifted during the course of the journey, and in the end it is left unclear whether her people will try to destroy the Furfolk, and what Siri can do to stop them. This complex, atmospheric morality tale offers no easy answers, and takes place in a world that is alien and exotic. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16602-4

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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