For able readers looking for the unusual.

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SNOWIZE & SNITCH

HIGHLY EFFECTIVE DEFECTIVE DETECTIVES

Hoping to find her lost guardian, Doctor Professor David Ezratty, 12-year-old Ever Indigo Nikita Stein teams up with a pair of detectives battling the forces of the evil ColdCorp Corporation.

When Doc disappears, a crow from the future brings Ever a message: save the detectives. But who are they? Following a holographic message left in her guardian’s laboratory, Ever solves this first mystery by going through a formerly forbidden tunnel that takes her to the office of Harry Snowize, in denial about his imperfect memory, and Snitch, a giant African pouched rat that communicates in sign language. These are the defective detectives. This elaborately constructed and bizarrely detailed adventure is full of slightly off-kilter references and scene changes. From South Africa to Zimbabwe, Japan, and Spain, and back to Cape Town, the unlikely trio pursues the problem of disappearing scientific minds. Occasionally they’re joined by Doc’s perpetually angry robot refrigerator. Ever has a useful photographic memory, but she also has an attitude problem of her own. Struggling in school, the sarcastically nicknamed “Einstein” believes she’s “a magnet for bad luck.” Briner plays with quest-adventure tropes, but it’s the elaborate vocabulary and play with words that will appeal to her audience. Ending with a grand semantic twist, this convoluted caper even offers a satisfying solution to the mystery of Ever’s missing parents. Finished interior illustrations were not seen, but the cover depicts Ever and Snowize as white.

For able readers looking for the unusual. (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3567-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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A lighthearted mystery starring seriously smart kids.

THE AMBROSE DECEPTION

A mysterious scholarship contest launches this middle-grade mystery.

The action begins when three Chicago middle schoolers—Bondi Johnson, a black boy; Wilf Samson, a white boy; and Melissa Burris, a white girl—are selected to compete in the Kaplin/Baron scholarship contest. No one at the three students’ schools has heard of this scholarship, and even stranger, none of these students is known for exemplary academics. In fact, they are better known for scheming, daydreaming, and schmoozing. The scholarship rules appear straightforward: untangle the clues, provide a photo of each, and win $10,000. With these guidelines, a provided cellphone, a personal driver, and a no-strings-attached debit card, each student is ready to tackle the task. Bondi attacks his clues with diligence; Melissa, though suspicious, enjoys the chase; Wilf would rather cross items off his bucket list than solve the riddles. When the hunt for clues draws to an end, Bondi, Melissa, and Wilf discover there is another mystery surrounding this scholarship and the money, leading them to band together to unravel the remaining clues and unearth the truth before the $10,000 slips out of their hands. In the tradition of The Westing Game or Chasing Vermeer, this is a plot-driven brainteaser centered on Chicago landmarks and Chicago history. The twists and turns are well-paced and believable, and transcripts of texts, emails, and letters within the chapters add dimension to the strong cast of secondary characters.

A lighthearted mystery starring seriously smart kids. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-8838-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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