A satisfying story in which two children discover the love of an ancestor.

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THE POWWOW TREASURE

From the Powwow Mystery series , Vol. 3

A treasure map written on buckskin leads siblings to a discovery worth more than gold.

Old tropes and new fun greet young readers in a mystery about two kids traveling the powwow highway with their grandparents. Jamie and Marie Longbow are twins. Marie helps Grama make and sell beadwork while Jamie gives Grampa a hand setting up their canvas tent. After finishing one powwow in Massachusetts, they arrive for another in Connecticut, where they are preparing for the grand entry when their grandparents leave them alone for a minute at their booth. Before they know it, they are approached by a stranger who calls himself Lester Laughing. Lester is dressed in old-time regalia. He wears authentic buckskin and carries a big, eagle-feather fan. He stands out due to a scar next to his nose, and he says he knows their family. When he gives them an old map, asking them to keep it a secret from their grandparents, they head off on an adventure with a surprise at the end. Building his story around the trope of the Indian ghost, Abenaki author Bruchac addresses cultural practices in a loving Native family with sweet touches of humor. Deforest, who grew up on the Navajo reservation, gives his characters big, warm eyes and open, cartoon faces that make the illustrations familiar, warm, and friendly. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 30.3% of actual size.)

A satisfying story in which two children discover the love of an ancestor. (Graphic/mystery hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6870-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.

THE MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER

Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of...

HONEY

Melody Bishop's peaceful life with her widower father is upset when the annoying 6-year-old next door comes home from the beauty parlor with some gossip.

The 10-year-old has already noticed her father's increased distraction and a new tendency to whistle, so when Teeny Nelson reports that "Henry's been bitten by the love bug," Melody is avid to know more. With her best friend, biracial Nick Woo, at her side, she goes to the Bee Hive beauty salon to investigate. What she discovers there rocks her world not once but twice, as salon owner Bee-Bee has information about Melody's mother, who died in childbirth and about whom her father never speaks. Weeks gets the small moments right: Melody's exasperation with Teeny and the way it turns to sympathy when the little girl's mother threatens a spanking; her affectionate resignation when her grandfather, who has emphysema, sneaks out to the garage for a smoke. And Melody's close relationship with her loving father is sweetly evoked. But other elements fail to cohere. Obvious misdirection leads Melody to a critical misunderstanding that never amounts to more than a plot contrivance, and the mystical visions of Bee-Bee's dog, Mo, who has an unknown connection to Melody, strain credulity.

In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of nail-polish colors is somewhat amusing. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-46557-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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