A winning formula, replete with wince-worthy contretemps reported in properly poker-faced prose.


More high school noir, centered on a humorless amateur gumshoe for whom a punch in the nose is all in a day’s work.

Jack’s face is still damaged after the capers in the previous casebook (The Adventures of Jack Lime, 2010). It takes further poundings as he tails the boyfriend of a slinky classmate to a forbidden dodgeball game run by local gangbangers and shortly afterward is pressed into service to recover a stolen comic by a punk collector with a violent temper. Being slower on the uptake than he should be, he is also repeatedly framed by a smooth operator—to the point that the school’s football team is treating him like a pinball in the halls and Principal Snit is on the verge of expelling him for good. Surrounded by a typical teen crowd of molls, geeks, plug uglies and people who are smarter than he is, Jack nonetheless manages to hold his own thanks to relentless focus, a sharp eye for clues and the occasional flash of insight. By the end, more than one murky scheme has been exposed, though a wild twist signals that Jack’s labors aren’t over yet. Jack’s advanced age notwithstanding, this is just the ticket for upper-elementary and middle school mystery lovers.

A winning formula, replete with wince-worthy contretemps reported in properly poker-faced prose. (Mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-364-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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A quick, agreeable caper, this may spark some discussion even as it entertains.


Myla and Peter step into the path of a gang when they unite forces to find Peter’s runaway brother, Randall.

As they follow the graffiti tags that Randall has been painting in honor of the boys’ deceased father, they uncover a sinister history involving stolen diamonds, disappearances, and deaths. It started long ago when the boys’ grandmother, a diamond-cutter, partnered with the head of the gang. She was rumored to have hidden his diamonds before her suspicious death, leaving clues to their whereabouts. Now everyone is searching, including Randall. The duo’s collaboration is initially an unwilling one fraught with misunderstandings. Even after Peter and Myla bond over being the only people of color in an otherwise white school (Myla is Indian-American; mixed-race Peter is Indian, African-American, and white), Peter can’t believe the gang is after Myla. But Myla possesses a necklace that holds a clue. Alternating first-person chapters allow peeks into how Myla, Peter, and Randall unravel the story and decipher clues. Savvy readers will put the pieces together, too, although false leads and red herrings are cleverly interwoven. The action stumbles at times, but it takes place against the rich backdrops of gritty New York City and history-laden Dobbs Ferry and is made all the more colorful by references to graffiti art and parkour.

A quick, agreeable caper, this may spark some discussion even as it entertains. (Mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2296-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Life in the seaside village has been hard for Adrianne and her family, even before the arrival of the mermaid. Since Papa’s death, they’ve been living with horrible Auntie Minnah, the village boys ignore Adrianne in favor of wealthier and prettier girls and the villagers despise the whole family. Adrianne gets the opportunity for her dream job, but as soon as things start looking up, the Windwaithe Mermaid comes, summoning Adrianne and terrifying the superstitious villagers. Now Adrianne needs to make a choice between a magical life of undersea romance and the poverty and degradation she knows on land. It ought to be an easy choice, but perhaps not. Lucky, lucky Adrianne. Her magical adventure will bring out her true potential—as a girl who is “quite attractive” and whose outer beauty is now visible both to herself and to the handsome boys of the island. Readers obsessed with paranormal romance could do worse, but they probably won’t remember this for very long. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-09734-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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