A humorous, entertaining story of an aspiring detective who finds her inner moxie.

MAXWELL PARKER, P.I.

From the The Maxwell Parker Chronicles series , Vol. 1

In this YA novel, a young girl investigates suspicious doings in her neighborhood with the help of her best friend.

Twelve-year-old Maxwell Parker lives in Riverdale, California, with her artist mother. Seventh grade is about to begin, and Maxwell has had a boring summer with nothing to investigate; she longs to be like fictional teen detectives Nancy Drew or Veronica Mars. But then a new neighbor, the grandmotherly Mrs. Cook, raises the girl’s suspicions. Maxwell builds a case file on her, collecting snippets such as “Fact #2: Mrs. Cook has a coffee table that is large enough to hold a corpse.” But Maxwell has another problem—starting junior high and finding new friends. As she tells her best friend, Kenneth Newman, she feels like the “Little Mermaid” from the original fairy tale: “I look pretty much like other kids, but there’s something essentially different about me….I know that to fit in, I’d probably have to sell my soul.” Nevertheless, she tries to fit in anyway, “helping” a popular girl with her math homework while actually just giving her the answers. Still, Maxwell continues her private-eye activities, especially after reports that members of a credit card ring called the Backstreet Bandits are operating in Riverdale. As the tween investigates, with some surprising results, she also finds new courage and cements her friendship with Kenneth. Lynn (Letters from the Land of La, 2016, etc.) offers an appealing heroine in Maxwell, who blends individuality and intelligence with the usual insecurities of a junior high school kid. The character’s struggles to figure out just how grown-up to be, and especially how to navigate the social land mines of seventh grade without losing her identity, are well-told and relatable. In some other books for young readers, tween girls are obsessed with clothes and looks; not Maxwell, who marches to her own drummer—even if she’s sometimes uneasy about it. Kenneth, meanwhile, is depicted as a low-key but levelheaded and supportive friend to Maxwell who could, one day, be more. The series continues in the next installment, Maxwell Parker, Love Doctor (2016).

A humorous, entertaining story of an aspiring detective who finds her inner moxie. 

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9904353-2-7

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Stepping Stones for Kids

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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