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THE GHOST JOB

A fun ghostly romp.

After becoming ghosts in a freak lab accident, a group of friends pull off heists in the hope of returning to life.

Zenith, a Dutch Indonesian 12-year-old, and her best friends have a lot of fun being dead, but they all agree they’d rather be alive again. And as her family prepares to move away from the area she haunts, Zenith in particular needs to return to life as soon as possible. Using their diverse set of ghostly powers, they work together to steal artifacts, books, and other magical objects that could return them to life, under the guidance of a medium. Nothing works…but then they attempt to take a device called Redeemer from a necromancer, who’s using it for nefarious purposes. When one of her friends gets caught in the middle of the botched job, Zenith must take on the role of leader and save her friends, but at what cost to herself? The kids’ clever antics keep the levity up through what could have been a somber story. Their respective powers, like Zenith’s ability to move physical objects, complement their unique personalities and are organically incorporated into their plans to swipe objects and rescue their friends. The blunt storytelling style brings some reveals on too early but otherwise works to great effect to keep the tone light even while delivering mature messages about death and the meaning of life.

A fun ghostly romp. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780063253339

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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FRAMED!

From the Framed! series , Vol. 1

More escapades are promised in this improbable but satisfying series starter

A smart kid foils big-time thieves in the nation’s capital—and joins the FBI.

Using a method he invented called the Theory of All Small Things, white seventh-grader Florian Bates solves mysteries by piecing together seemingly trivial clues in this engaging, humorous, but not always logical caper. When Florian easily helps the FBI recover three masterpieces stolen from the National Gallery of Art, the dazzled feds supply him with an alias and train him at Quantico. Collaborating with his African-American best friend, superbright, athletic Margaret, Florian finds that even with TOAST, sleuthing gets dangerous when the pair, working undercover, come up against a European crime syndicate—and another spectacular art heist in the form of a forgery substituted for an iconic Monet. Exciting adventures ensue, and clues accumulate until the culprit is revealed and the genuine painting located. Missteps intrude, though: a few lapses in logic may leave readers puzzled; some clues seem contrived; and a subplot involving Florian’s discovery of the startling identity of adopted Margaret’s biological father falls flat. The solution is also a letdown: the thief is a minor figure, and the means by which the painting was stolen and the forgery set in its place aren’t explained. The real draws here are the two resourceful leads’ solid, realistic friendship, bolstered by snappy dialogue, brisk pacing, and well-crafted ancillary characters—not to mention behind-the-scenes glimpses of the FBI.

More escapades are promised in this improbable but satisfying series starter . (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3630-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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BUTT SANDWICH & TREE

Slick sleuthing punctuated by action on the boards and insights into differences that matter—and those that don’t.

Brothers, one neurodivergent, team up to shoot baskets and find a thief.

With the coach spit-bellowing at him to play better or get out, basketball tryouts are such a disaster for 11-year-old Green that he pelts out of the gym—becoming the chief suspect to everyone except his fiercely protective older brother, Cedar, when a valuable ring vanishes from the coach’s office. Used to being misunderstood, Green is less affected by the assumption of his guilt than Cedar, whose violent reactions risk his suspension. Switching narrative duties in alternating first-person chapters, the brothers join forces to search for clues to the real thief—amassing notes, eliminating possibilities (only with reluctance does Green discard Ringwraiths from his exhaustive list of possible perps), and, on the way to an ingenious denouement, discovering several schoolmates and grown-ups who, like Cedar, see Green as his own unique self, not just another “special needs” kid. In an author’s note, King writes that he based his title characters on family members, adding an element of conviction to his portrayals of Green as a smart, unathletic tween with a wry sense of humor and of Cedar’s attachment to him as founded in real affection, not just duty. Ultimately, the author finds positive qualities to accentuate in most of the rest of the cast too, ending on a tide of apologies and fence-mendings. Cedar and Green default to White.

Slick sleuthing punctuated by action on the boards and insights into differences that matter—and those that don’t. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66590-261-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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