There are plenty of surprises in this caper with heart.

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CONNECT THE DOTS

What are the odds of a life-or-death mystery in Elk Grove Park, Illinois?

Sixth graders Oliver Beane, whose parents divorced last year, and Frankie Figge, whose working parents often leave him in charge of his twin toddler brothers, will never be popular. When a new, weird girl named Matilda Sandoval moves to town and sort of befriends them, it seems a good fit. But she is sure someone is surveilling Oliver. It can’t have anything to do with the mysterious disappearance of Preston Oglethorpe, their middle school’s eccentric-genius namesake, can it? The trio decides to find him themselves and sort things out. Oglethorpe’s research into chaos theory had given him a mechanism to predict—even influence—events using mathematical equations. Some odd things are happening around town: There’s a rock band forming in the old folks’ home and a new man in Oliver’s mother’s life. Is there a pattern? Maybe the kids aren’t the only ones on Oglethorpe’s trail...and the competition may be deadly. Following A Drop of Hope (2019), Calabrese’s smartly written sophomore effort is a Rube Goldberg–ian romp sure to please brainy kid readers with its trio of protagonists. All the kid characters have real-world problems on top of dealing with a possibly evil genius and wannabe supervillains, grounding the narrative nicely. Some Spanish surnames notwithstanding, the cast appears to be a mostly white one.

There are plenty of surprises in this caper with heart. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35403-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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