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A middle-of-the-road coming-of-age mystery.

Twelve-year-old Peyton plays detective after rescuing a hit-and-run victim who she hopes could become her summer boyfriend.

It doesn’t take Peyton long after finding Gray unconscious to start imagining their would-be romance. It’s summer in Mussel Cove, and she’s working the beat in the small coastal Maine town, on the hunt for whomever hit and then abandoned Gray, all while he’s in the hospital in a coma. Her search for justice teaches her a lot about first impressions and assumptions as she realizes that life lies perplexingly in between black and white. While Jacobson tries to convey some of that complexity, it unfortunately mostly falls flat. Peyton’s older sisters feel generic, and her divorced parents hit the obvious tropes. There are flashes of depth, as in the sisters’ conversation about what split up their parents and in the moment her father stands up to her unforgiving grandmother. But overall, the story stays on the surface. The suspense around what will happen to Gray and the mystery of who hit him keep the plot plodding along, but everything is resolved almost too quickly in the end. Jacobson succeeds, however, at writing Peyton as a believable tween girl with age-appropriate concerns, friends, and interests. The main characters are presumed White; cues such as a name or hairstyle may be intended to identify background characters of color.

A middle-of-the-road coming-of-age mystery. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1153-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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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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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