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Thoroughly entertaining—mystery fans and dog lovers will lap this one up.

Three clever but remarkably quirky siblings and two of their friends take on an infamous and crafty jewel thief.

Epic, interested in robotics and facing the challenging transition from a tiny private academy to a large public middle school, is often tasked with keeping an eye on his younger brother, Rondo, who takes detecting very seriously, and Elvis, his little sister, who’s just as focused on famous movie-star dog Sir Bentley. Her dream is coming true: Sir Bentley is coming to stay at their parents’ dog-centric bed-and-breakfast, Perro del Mar, in the titular “dog-friendly town” of Carmelito, California. Unfortunately, in the middle of the night someone steals Bentley’s valuable, jewel-studded collar, and the crime is quickly publicized on dog-focused celebrity blogs. The B&B is full of plausible jewel-thief candidates, most in town for the season’s biggest doggie bash, Puppy Picnic. Epic, in his believably (and yet humorously) angst-wracked narration, reports the riveting, evolving developments in a mystery that is thick with red herrings. Short chapters and a breathless pace make this a clever, engrossing plot-driven tale with plenty of unusual, well-developed characters—even the dogs. Epic and his family are white, and opening illustrations indicate that much of the rest of the cast is diverse.

Thoroughly entertaining—mystery fans and dog lovers will lap this one up. (Mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30644-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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The Baudelaire children—Violet, 14, Klaus, 12, and baby Sunny—are exceedingly ill-fated; Snicket extracts both humor and horror from their situation, as he gleefully puts them through one terrible ordeal after another. After receiving the news that their parents died in a fire, the three hapless orphans are delivered into the care of Count Olaf, who “is either a third cousin four times removed, or a fourth cousin three times removed.” The villainous Count Olaf is morally depraved and generally mean, and only takes in the downtrodden yet valiant children so that he can figure out a way to separate them from their considerable inheritance. The youngsters are able to escape his clutches at the end, but since this is the first installment in A Series of Unfortunate Events, there will be more ghastly doings. Written with old-fashioned flair, this fast-paced book is not for the squeamish: the Baudelaire children are truly sympathetic characters who encounter a multitude of distressing situations. Those who enjoy a little poison in their porridge will find it wicked good fun. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-440766-7

Page Count: 162

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot.

In sixth grade, Izzy Mancini’s cozy, loving world falls apart.

She and her family have moved out of the cottage she grew up in. Her mother has spent the summer on Block Island instead of at home with Izzy. Her father has recently returned from military service in Afghanistan partially paralyzed and traumatized. The only people she can count on are Zelda and Piper, her best friends since kindergarten—that is, until the Haidary family moves into the upstairs apartment. At first, Izzy resents the new guests from Afghanistan even though she knows she should be grateful that Dr. Haidary saved her father’s life. But despite her initial resistance (which manifests at times as racism), as Izzy gets to know Sitara, the Haidarys’ daughter, she starts to question whether Zelda and Piper really are her friends for forever—and whether she has the courage to stand up for Sitara against the people she loves. Ferruolo weaves a rich setting, fully immersing readers in the largely white, coastal town of Seabury, Rhode Island. Disappointingly, the story resolves when Izzy convinces her classmates to accept Sitara by revealing the Haidarys’ past as American allies, a position that put them in so much danger that they had to leave home. The idea that Sitara should be embraced only because her family supported America, rather than simply because she is a human being, significantly undermines the purported message of tolerance for all.

A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30909-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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