A pleaser for fans of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967) and like New York odysseys.

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MADHATTAN MYSTERY

A jewelry heist, an abrasive new friend and the Big Apple itself carry a young visitor through lingering grief-related issues in this engaging, if thematically crowded outing.

Lexi and her little brother Kevin are spending the summer in New York City with their aunt while their father honeymoons with his new wife. Hardly does Lexi step off the train in bustling Grand Central Station than her purse—holding treasured mementos of her mother, two years dead—is snatched. She overhears a suspicious conversation in the station’s Whispering Gallery about jewels before being whirled off to her aunt’s West Side apartment house to meet the super’s hyper daughter, Kim Ling Levine. Electrified by news that gems destined for an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art have disappeared, Lexi shares the aforementioned conversation with Kim Ling. She is only half-unwillingly dragged into an investigation that takes the young sleuths on a tour of Manhattan, from the Met and Central Park to some of Grand Central’s darker corners. Bonk casts and contrasts his sparky characters deftly. He good-humoredly portrays Kim (purple haired, and loud of both mouth and clothing) as a stereotypical New Yorker and Lexi as a quiet brooder who is nonetheless capable of holding up her end of a tumultuous relationship. Her new personal insights and the adventure itself ultimately work to thaw her frozen emotional state. Superfluous flashbacks and an extraneous subplot involving the rehabilitation of a teenage runaway are just distractions on the way to a boisterous happy ending.

A pleaser for fans of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967) and like New York odysseys. (Mystery. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 22, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8027-2349-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Clever as ever—if slow off the mark—and positively laden with tics, quirks, and puns.

THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY AND THE RIDDLE OF AGES

From the Mysterious Benedict Society series , Vol. 4

When deadly minions of archvillain Ledroptha Curtain escape from prison, the talented young protégés of his twin brother, Nicholas Benedict, reunite for a new round of desperate ploys and ingenious trickery.

Stewart sets the reunion of cerebral Reynie Muldoon Perumal, hypercapable Kate Wetherall, shy scientific genius George “Sticky” Washington, and spectacularly sullen telepath Constance Contraire a few years after the previous episode, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (2009). Providing relief from the quartet’s continual internecine squabbling and self-analysis, he trucks in Tai Li, a grubby, precociously verbal 5-year-old orphan who also happens to be telepathic. (Just to even the playing field a bit, the bad guys get a telepath too.) Series fans will know to be patient in wading through all the angst, arguments, and flurries of significant nose-tapping (occasionally in unison), for when the main action does at long last get under way—the five don’t even set out from Mr. Benedict’s mansion together until more than halfway through—the Society returns to Nomansan Island (get it?), the site of their first mission, for chases, narrow squeaks, hastily revised stratagems, and heroic exploits that culminate in a characteristically byzantine whirl of climactic twists, triumphs, and revelations. Except for brown-skinned George and olive-complected, presumably Asian-descended Tai, the central cast defaults to white; Reynie’s adoptive mother is South Asian.

Clever as ever—if slow off the mark—and positively laden with tics, quirks, and puns. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-45264-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Megan Tingley/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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