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From the Wolfe and Lamb Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Enough unresolved questions remain for a sequel to this fun, silly spy adventure.

An animal lover discovers threats, disappearances, and international espionage after moving from London to the Dorset coast.

Twelve-year-old Kat Wolfe, a white girl, doesn’t mind moving to a little seaside village for her mum’s new job. She hasn’t reckoned on finding intrigue, but as soon as she starts up a petsitting agency, she’s drawn into a worrying mystery. Ramon, a friendly Paraguayan ornithologist, asks Kat to watch Bailey, the multilingual parrot, while he’s out of the country. Kat’s in awe of Ramon’s house, a “futuristic fortress” chock-full of high-tech gadgets, until she discovers evidence of foul play. The village policeman, Sgt. Singh, thinks Kat’s talking nonsense. If it weren’t for her new friends (elderly Edith Chalmers and her golden retriever, 13-year-old, biracial Cuban-American Harper Lamb and her racehorse), she’d be stuck. Retired librarian Edith and hacker Harper uncover evidence of a Cold War mystery. There are false identities, secret codes, sleeper agents, the CIA, MI5, and a dangerous horse ride over storm-lashed moors. “You’ll never get away with this,” Kat tells the villain, and she’s right, of course. Their little Dorset village is realistically diverse despite some awkwardness (Kat practices a fake Chinese martial art called “the Way of the Mongoose”), and the crystal-clear girls-do-computers message is welcome.

Enough unresolved questions remain for a sequel to this fun, silly spy adventure. (Thriller. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30958-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Entrancing and uplifting.

A small dog, the elderly woman who owns him, and a homeless girl come together to create a tale of serendipity.

Piper, almost 12, her parents, and her younger brother are at the bottom of a long slide toward homelessness. Finally in a family shelter, Piper finds that her newfound safety gives her the opportunity to reach out to someone who needs help even more. Jewel, mentally ill, lives in the park with her dog, Baby. Unwilling to leave her pet, and forbidden to enter the shelter with him, she struggles with the winter weather. Ree, also homeless and with a large dog, helps when she can, but after Jewel gets sick and is hospitalized, Baby’s taken to the animal shelter, and Ree can’t manage the complex issues alone. It’s Piper, using her best investigative skills, who figures out Jewel’s backstory. Still, she needs all the help of the shelter Firefly Girls troop that she joins to achieve her accomplishment: to raise enough money to provide Jewel and Baby with a secure, hopeful future and, maybe, with their kindness, to inspire a happier story for Ree. Told in the authentic alternating voices of loving child and loyal dog, this tale could easily slump into a syrupy melodrama, but Pyron lets her well-drawn characters earn their believable happy ending, step by challenging step, by reaching out and working together. Piper, her family, and Jewel present white; Pyron uses hair and naming convention, respectively, to cue Ree as black and Piper’s friend Gabriela as Latinx.

Entrancing and uplifting. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-283922-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A pleasing premise for book lovers.

A fantasy-loving bookworm makes a wonderful, terrible bargain.

When sixth grader Poppy Woodlock’s historic preservationist parents move the family to the Oregon coast to work on the titular stately home, Poppy’s sure she’ll find magic. Indeed, the exiled water nymph in the manor’s ruined swimming pool grants a wish, but: “Magic isn’t free. It cosssts.” The price? Poppy’s favorite book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In return she receives Sampson, a winged lion cub who is everything Poppy could have hoped for. But she soon learns that the nymph didn’t take just her own physical book—she erased Narnia from Poppy’s world. And it’s just the first loss: Soon, Poppy’s grandmother’s journal’s gone, then The Odyssey, and more. The loss is heartbreaking, but Sampson’s a wonderful companion, particularly as Poppy’s finding middle school a tough adjustment. Hartman’s premise is beguiling—plenty of readers will identify with Poppy, both as a fellow bibliophile and as a kid struggling to adapt. Poppy’s repeatedly expressed faith that unveiling Sampson will bring some sort of vindication wears thin, but that does not detract from the central drama. It’s a pity that the named real-world books Poppy reads are notably lacking in diversity; a story about the power of literature so limited in imagination lets both itself and readers down. Main characters are cued White; there is racial diversity in the supporting cast. Chapters open with atmospheric spot art. (This review has been updated to reflect the final illustrations.)

A pleasing premise for book lovers. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780316448222

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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