Twenty-four short chapters move along at a clip to satisfy mystery fans, with plenty of red herrings and real clues...

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THE COPYCAT CAPER

From the Charlie Collier, Snoop for Hire series , Vol. 3

What would (fictional) Sam Solomon do? Charlie Collier, “weight-challenged” sixth-grade private eye, asks that question whenever he is faced with a dilemma.

Charlie, along with sidekicks Henry and Scarlett solve cases large and small—from figuring out how to retrieve a tennis ball lost down a hole to capturing a serial burglar. This time, Charlie nearly misses out on the case because he gets roped into playing the lead in the class play opposite Scarlett, who still has little romantic use for him. When Charlie notices a connection between the burglaries and the re-released Sam Solomon radio dramas, he opens his business again, against his father’s orders. Even his eccentric cryptographer grandmother, who shares the investigator gene with her grandson, makes it clear that this case is too dangerous. Only Charlie’s encyclopedic knowledge of the Sam Solomon episodes—and his science teacher’s frequent brainteasers—can save the day. A few missteps (it’s hard to believe a bakery or a pet store would have more than $2,000 in the overnight till or that the thin boy on the cover is Charlie) take away from the action, but true fans will ignore them.

Twenty-four short chapters move along at a clip to satisfy mystery fans, with plenty of red herrings and real clues sprinkled along the way. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-16256-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read.

ALI CROSS

The prolific king of the beach read is back with an intergenerational mystery for the 9-to-12-year-old set.

Ali Cross, the son of Patterson’s most famous creation, African American homicide detective Alex Cross, is “starting to think the worst might have happened” to his mixed-race friend Gabriel “Gabe” Qualls, who disappeared on Dec. 21 and hasn’t been heard from as of Christmas Eve, when the book opens. Ali offers an impromptu prayer for Gabe at the pre-holiday service at his all-black church as well as an impromptu press conference outside of it as journalists and paparazzi confront Alex about his alleged coma-inducing assault of a murder suspect’s father. Then someone robs the Crosses’ home that night along with four other homes; the Crosses’ Christmas gifts are stolen. Ali, obsessed with finding Gabe and feeling that these events will distract his dad and the police from searching for him, starts his own investigation—complete with looking at some contraband footage of Gabe’s unusually loaded backpack obtained by Ali’s stepmother, also a cop—and questioning his school and gaming pals, a diverse group. Writing in Ali’s voice with occasional cutaways to third-person chapters that follow Alex, Patterson sprinkles the narrative with pop-culture references even as he takes readers through the detective process.

Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53041-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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