A bubbly, surprising caper that will undoubtedly entertain young readers.


Niebruegge’s (The Zonderling, 2015, etc.) children’s novel tells a tale of buried treasure, forbidden history, and youthful mischief.

Becky Dulles has just received the worst news of her life: Franklin D. Roosevelt Elementary School is going to close due to budget cuts, which means she’ll be transferred to a totally new school! Even worse, she and her friends, known as the Sherlock Pines Gang, will almost certainly be separated as a result. And there’s another problem that needs immediate attention: It turns out that everyone’s permanent records will be handed over to the new schools, making it impossible for the Gang to hide anything they’ve done in the past that’s “kinda, sorta, maybe naughty.” They hatch a plan steal their permanent records, but avoiding the watchful eye of their principal, Mrs. Parish, is no easy feat. As the friends work together to pilfer the documents, they unexpectedly stumble upon a treasure map that holds a dark secret about the school’s past. Could it be the real reason behind its closure? The Gang set out on a new mission to find the treasure and uncover the controversial mystery. The prose style has a youthful tone throughout, as the author captures the often vivid imaginations of adolescents: “we completed the next step of the mission—memorizing a bunch of top secret code names to use during Operation Parish Stinks.” Becky and her friends are instantly lovable, and it’s hard not to laugh out loud at their antics, as the dialogue is chock-full of witty jokes and sarcasm: “A riot nearly broke out last year when everyone discovered that most of the pizzas were covered in vegetables. Vegetables!” As the plot zips along, the story occasionally pauses to reflect on historical events, lending the lively, spirited narrative a refreshing bit of grown-up flair.

A bubbly, surprising caper that will undoubtedly entertain young readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9908710-9-5

Page Count: 171

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2018

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Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.


A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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