Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...

THE LEMONADE CRIME

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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An approachable lead-in that serves to fill in the background both for confirmed fans and readers new to the series.

THE BOXCAR CHILDREN BEGINNING

THE ALDENS OF FAIR MEADOW FARM

From the Boxcar Children Mysteries series

This prelude slips neatly into the classic series with a rural idyll that comes to a sudden, tragic end.

Spring brings not only fresh rounds of games and chores (“Chores are fun,” says Meg) for the four Alden children, but new friends too after the Clark family—fleeing frequently mentioned “hard times” in the city—arrives in a storm to stay until their car can be repaired. Indulging occasionally in foreshadowing and artfully incorporating details that will figure in later events, MacLachlan chronicles encounters and minor adventures on the farm in simple, straightforward language. The season changes, the children put on a summer circus, and the Clarks depart at last with a fond “[n]ot good-bye.” Then comes an offstage auto accident that orphans Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny and forces them to flee the farm even before the funeral lest they be separated. “The four lambs were on their way.” Interest in the classic Boxcar Children Mysteries remains strong, and this prequel should find eager readers.

An approachable lead-in that serves to fill in the background both for confirmed fans and readers new to the series. (finished illustrations, afterword and resource list not seen) (Historical fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6616-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Runs off the rails at the end, but even nongamers will appreciate this unofficial spinoff’s “achievement.” (Graphic/fantasy...

MOB SCHOOL SURVIVOR

From the The Creeper Diaries series , Vol. 1

Despite, not because of, carefully pre-laid plans, Gerald Creeper survives his first month of nights at Mob Middle School in this novel based on “Minecraft.”

Following a well-laid course but cast entirely with the popular video game’s “mobs,” the porkchop-loving young Creeper’s day-to-day narrative—presented in a “hand-printed” type on ruled paper with lots of appropriately blocky line drawings—charts a rapid downward spiral. Along with acquiring, thanks to his Evil Twin, Chloe, the humiliating (if accurate: he has psoriasis) nickname “Itchy” on the first day, Gerald struggles not to explode (as Creepers do) while being bullied by skeletons and navigating rocky new friendships with decidedly uncool classmates Sam Slime and Ziggy the zombie. On the other hand, a genealogy assignment gives him grounds for taking pride in his Creeper ancestors, and he finds worthy ways to mend fences with his friends by month’s end. Less worthily, he finally explodes all over the skeleton who has been harassing him and Chloe. Not only does the bully then lay off (as if), but Gerald actually earns approving nods from his parents, because “being a pacifist doesn’t mean that you choose peace ALL the time.”

Runs off the rails at the end, but even nongamers will appreciate this unofficial spinoff’s “achievement.” (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1814-2

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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