A spirited, engaging tale filled with intriguing nautical details and local color.

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Mystery of the Thief in the Night

From the Pack-n-Go Girls - Mexico series , Vol. 1

Two resourceful 9-year-old girls, one from the U.S. and one from Mexico, solve the mystery of dinghies stolen from sailboats at a popular anchorage spot in a lagoon.

In this installment of Diller’s series, Pack-n-Go Girls Adventures (Mystery of the Secret Room, 2014, etc.), Izzy Bennett and her parents are anchored aboard the Dream Catcher in the small Mexican coastal town of Barra de Navidad as part of their yearlong sailing expedition. While sailing with her family is a great escapade, Izzy misses her friends back in Seattle and hopes to meet other boats with kids her age. At a restaurant and hotel in Barra, she meets Patti Cruz Delgado, also 9, whose family owns the place. Patti’s English is far better than Izzy’s halting Spanish, and the two quickly bond and play together for several days. Patti divulges that all is not well at this idyllic spot. Bookings are down, in part because travelers are heading to larger resorts but also because of a rash of thefts from sailboats in the anchorage. The Bennetts are concerned about the dinghy thefts and consider sailing to another spot, but Izzy is so thrilled to make such a good friend that they decide to stay put. When another dinghy disappears and Patti’s mother suspects that her son Carlos might be involved, the girls are determined to uncover the thief and exonerate Carlos. In the best tradition of girl detectives, Izzy whispers her idea to Patti: “It’s a long shot, but it just might work.” The well-paced story, with illustrations by Turner (Color Your World, 2016, etc.) that effectively complement the text, features appealingly adventurous girls. There’s a dose of realism in the characters, particularly Izzy. She’s depicted as fretful and beset with theoretical worries but overcomes them when faced with true danger. The subject of wealth is handled with refreshing candor. Patti assumes that the Bennetts must be very rich. Izzy explains how they scrimped and saved to afford this trip. They planned ahead. The author sometimes restates a point made obvious by the credible characters and clear writing (After discussing their similarities, “The two girls realized that girls are the same around the world”). And the sharing of cultures comes off as a bit facile.

A spirited, engaging tale filled with intriguing nautical details and local color.

Pub Date: May 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936376-06-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: WorldTrek Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2016

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children’s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read...

ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY

From the Mr. Lemoncello's Library series , Vol. 1

When a lock-in becomes a reality game, 12-year-old Kyle Keeley and his friends use library resources to find their way out of Alexandriaville’s new public library.

The author of numerous mysteries for children and adults turns his hand to a puzzle adventure with great success. Starting with the premise that billionaire game-maker Luigi Lemoncello has donated a fortune to building a library in a town that went without for 12 years, Grabenstein cleverly uses the tools of board and video games—hints and tricks and escape hatches—to enhance this intricate and suspenseful story. Twelve 12-year-old winners of an essay contest get to be the first to see the new facility and, as a bonus, to play his new escape game. Lemoncello’s gratitude to the library of his childhood extends to providing a helpful holographic image of his 1968 librarian, but his modern version also includes changing video screens, touch-screen computers in the reading desks and an Electronic Learning Center as well as floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stretching up three stories. Although the characters, from gamer Kyle to schemer Charles Chiltington, are lightly developed, the benefits of pooling strengths to work together are clear.

Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children’s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read is a winner for readers and game-players alike. (Mystery. 9-13)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87089-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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