Despite the flimsy plot and marginal character development, Agatha’s silly antics and enthusiastic delivery should engage...

AGATHA PARROT AND THE ODD STREET SCHOOL GHOST

From the Agatha Parrot series

When the Odd Street School’s clock-tower bell rings off-schedule one night, Agatha Jane Parrot and her chums suspect a mischievous ghost may be the cause.

Agatha, a “very charming and lovely girl with crazy hair and awesome freckles,” lives at 5 Odd St., surrounded by her neighboring best friends, Ivy, Bianca, Ellie, and Martha. In Hargis’ comic black-and-white illustrations, Ivy and Bianca appear somewhat dark-skinned; the other girls, including Agatha, look to be white. One “dark and stormy night,” the school clock-tower bell rings 27 times, disturbing Agatha and her friends. After days of the bell tolling “TOO MANY DONGs,” Ellie suggests there might be a ghost in the tower, triggering the spread of ghost fever throughout the school. The subsequent inexplicable closing of a classroom window and appearance of a glowing face in the clock tower prompt the principal to organize a “GHOST WATCH!” in the school auditorium, where Agatha and her pals tell ghost stories and hilariously resolve the ghost mystery. Addressing readers with chatty directness, punctuated with many exclamations and exclamation points that substitute for nuance, Agatha proves an unflappable heroine.

Despite the flimsy plot and marginal character development, Agatha’s silly antics and enthusiastic delivery should engage readers transitioning to chapter books. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-50672-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd.

THE MISSING BASEBALL

From the Zach and Zoe Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Lupica kicks off a new series starring a pair of 8-year-old twins who solve sports-themed mysteries.

Even the pleasures of competing in various events during his school’s Spirit Week dim a smidge for Zach Walker when the prized autographed baseball he brings to his third-grade class for show and tell vanishes. Happily, his bookish but equally sports-loving sister, Zoe, is on the case, and by the time of the climactic baseball game at week’s end, she has pieced together clues and deductions that lead to the lost treasure—which had not been stolen but batted through an open window by the teacher’s cat and stashed in a storage shed by the custodian. In the co-published sequel, The Half-Court Hero, the equally innocuous conundrum hangs on the identity of the mysterious “guardian angel” who is fixing up a run-down playground basketball court. Along with plenty of suspenseful sports action, the author highlights in both tales the values of fair play, teamwork, and doing the “right thing.” The Walker family presents white, but in both the narrative and Danger’s appropriately bland (if inappropriately static) illustrations, the supporting cast shows some racial and ethnic diversity.

Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-28936-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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May Ra the Mighty (and friends) solve many more ancient mysteries.

THE GREAT TOMB ROBBERY

From the Ra the Mighty series , Vol. 2

The Pharaoh’s pampered cat loves his snacks, his naps, and many other royal privileges.

Ra the Mighty is also lazy, vain, and entirely self-centered. He once solved a mystery and is exceedingly proud to have done so, considering himself a Great Detective (Ra the Mighty: Cat Detective, 2018). But he has no burning desire to become involved in a case now, especially if it would interfere with those naps and snacks. But a Great Mystery is thrust upon him when he travels to Thebes to be measured for his place in Pharaoh’s planned tomb. The tomb of Pharaoh’s ancestor—and of Ra’s own forebear—has been robbed. Reluctantly, Ra and his more-eager cohorts, Miu the kitchen cat and Khepri the scarab beetle, narrow their list of suspects and discover clues amid daring deeds and dastardly betrayals. To add insult to injury, Ra is mistaken for an ordinary cat when the evil Vizier sends a substitute to Pharaoh, and he must make do with ordinary food and a great deal of dirt and discomfort, complaining all the way. Of course innocents are saved, guilty ones are punished, and the Great Detectives triumph. Greenfield keeps the action fast-paced, seamlessly weaving in much information about ancient Egypt, and the interactions among the distinctive and delightful characters are hilarious. Horne’s elongated and exaggerated black-and-white illustrations add to the fun.

May Ra the Mighty (and friends) solve many more ancient mysteries. (glossary of names, note, author’s note) (Historical fantasy/mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4240-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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