A pleasing, well-judged blend of genres with a good resolution.



In this middle-grade chapter book, private detective Goldilocks takes the case of a man whose missing grandparents have been replaced by bears.

After her father dies, 10-year-old Goldilocks inherits the family business: a private detective agency, which she runs with her cat, Charlotte, in the town of Lick Skillet. Money is tight, the rent is overdue, and she must do her best to avoid the wild-haired Tom the Kid-Snatcher, who rounds up kids without parents for the local orphanage. (He even occasionally kidnaps children who aren’t orphans: “He was that kind of kid-snatcher.”) Goldilocks advertises her detecting services, and her first client is a man named Frank Sims who wants her to find his missing grandparents—and figure out why bears are now living in their house. She’s glad to take the case, but her client’s grandparents live in the nearby Black Forest, which is notoriously full of scary creatures, and she’ll have to pass near the orphanage, besides. In order to avoid some dangers, including Tom, Goldilocks leaves the safe forest path; luckily, she meets Patty, an orphanage escapee who lives in the forest. The girls become friends and partners, solving the mystery and alerting authorities to the orphans’ mistreatment. Trine (Willy Maykit in Space, 2015, etc.) skillfully mixes fairy tales and detective fiction with a coming-of-age story about braving danger to prove oneself. Such elements could easily become rather dark, and Trine does touch on serious issues (including Goldilocks’ money problems), but moments of humor help to lighten the story. For example, Tom’s horse-drawn jail, the Patty Wagon, is named after his most recent captive: “With any luck he’d soon change the name to the Goldie Wagon.” The girl-power message is also appealing. Baykovska (The Nasty Princess, 2018, etc.) provides lighthearted, cartoonish black-and-white pencil illustrations for each chapter head; these offer nice details, such as the fact that Tom bears some resemblance to Struwwelpeter, a character from a well-known 1845 children’s book.

A pleasing, well-judged blend of genres with a good resolution.

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73395-892-9

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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