THUMB AND THE BAD GUYS

In a hamlet on the coast of British Columbia that is reachable only by air or boat, 12-year-old Thumb is known among the 143 other villagers as the one who plays a trick on newcomers. Along with neighbor Susan, also 12, Thumb finds their lives seem very humdrum compared to those portrayed in the films flown in weekly. Unable to accept the dull routine, Thumb and Susan decide to look for bad guys on the theory that, as universal as they are in film, there must be some around. Adventures that ensue are humorous with a manufactured, slightly scary edge. The arrival of a new teacher who is both weird and enthusiastic adds to the mix-ups. The unusual isolation of the entire village combines with the depth of knowledge its residents have about their neighbors to enhance the underlying sense of safety at the same time it intensifies the danger. Entertaining for children who’ve moved beyond early readers and want some thrills but who are not ready for too much complexity or fright. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-88899-916-0

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark.

NARWHAL I'M AROUND

From the Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter series , Vol. 2

An animal ghost seeks closure after enduring aquatic atrocities.

In this sequel to The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter (2020), sixth grader Rex is determined to once again use his ability to communicate with dead animals for the greater good. A ghost narwhal’s visit gives Rex his next opportunity in the form of the clue “bad water.” Rex enlists Darvish—his Pakistani American human best friend—and Drumstick—his “faithful (dead) chicken”—to help crack the case. But the mystery is only one of Rex’s many roadblocks. For starters, Sami Mulpepper hugged him at a dance, and now she’s his “accidental girlfriend.” Even worse, Darvish develops one of what Rex calls “Game Preoccupation Disorders” over role-playing game Monsters & Mayhem that may well threaten the pair’s friendship. Will Rex become “a Sherlock without a Watson,” or can the two make amends in time to solve the mystery? This second outing effectively carries the “ghost-mist” torch from its predecessor without feeling too much like a formulaic carbon copy. Spouting terms like plausible deniability and in flagrante delicto, Rex makes for a hilariously bombastic (if unlikable) first-person narrator. The over-the-top style is contagious, and black-and-white illustrations throughout add cartoony punchlines to various scenes. Unfortunately, scenes in which humor comes at the expense of those with less status are downright cringeworthy, as when Rex, who reads as White, riffs on the impossibility of his ever pronouncing Darvish’s surname or he plays dumb by staring into space and drooling.

Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark. (Paranormal mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5523-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

A thrilling, mystery-laden story with an incredible setting.

BEAR BOTTOM

From the FunJungle series , Vol. 7

Leaving FunJungle Adventure Park for a vacation on a ranch in West Yellowstone, 13-year-old Teddy and his girlfriend, Summer, find themselves searching for missing bison while in the middle of solving a jewel heist.

The latest book in Gibbs’ FunJungle series leaves the adventure park for new territory. Even so, Teddy can’t seem to escape mysteries. While staying at the Oy Vey Corral, his skills as a teen detective are enlisted by the ranch owners to help find out who is stealing their purebred bison. When a grizzly bear named Sasquatch breaks into the ranch house late one night and Summer’s mother’s dazzling multimillion-dollar necklace goes missing, Teddy finds himself working not just one whodunit, but two. From an old hidden room for hiding bootleggers’ stashes to an abandoned gold mine and a bull on the loose, Gibbs keeps the pace moving and the action coming. While most of the main characters are presumed White, there is diversity in secondary characters. The owners of the Oy Vey Corral are Jewish. Gibbs doesn’t shy away from discussing America’s brutal treatment of Native peoples or the ways Americans have destroyed animal populations and habitats. This action-packed mystery with a satisfying resolution doesn’t rest on predictable thieves or obvious answers.

A thrilling, mystery-laden story with an incredible setting. (author’s note) (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7946-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more