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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The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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