English and Freeman’s Carver Chronicles kids make the acquaintance of a mysterious and self-assured new kid in town. All goes awry when a prized bike goes missing.
The series has built a strong track record of providing chapter-book readers with great family-oriented stories, and this book is no different. The tales center on the misadventures of the young boys in Ms. Shelby-Ortiz’s diverse class, which now has a new student. Meet African-American Khufu, with a name as big and historic as the stories he likes to tell. Let Khufu tell it, and his time in Room Ten comes after a string of schools; at his most recent “everyone…was a genius.” This “genius school” is just too much for Gavin, the African-American boy whose perspective the third-person narration conveys. The questionable truth of Khufu’s stories becomes an even greater focus once Gavin’s prized blue-and-white bike goes missing from the school bike rack and Khufu arrives with a very similar bike spray-painted orange. Hmm. At home, Great Aunt Myrtle (GAM for short) wisely reminds Gavin to not go making assumptions, but that’s just not enough to please Gavin and his pals. They are planning to do much more than ask the fantastical Khufu about the origins of his new, messily painted bike. But what they don’t know will sure surprise them in the end.
Combining inviting storytelling with a warm message of friendship and accountability, this entry is a welcome addition to a pretty near perfect series for independent readers. (Fiction. 6-9)