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

KAT WOLFE INVESTIGATES

From the Wolfe and Lamb Mysteries series , Vol. 1

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. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Reflective children will revel in this thought-provoking world.

THEY THREW US AWAY

From the Teddies Saga series , Vol. 1

The journey to find a child becomes an existential quest for an abandoned teddy bear.

Buddy is not just any stuffed bear, but a blue Furrington Teddy with a Real Silk Heart. So why did he wake up in a landfill with other Furringtons of varying hues? A more pressing matter, however, is escaping Trashland and its murderous gulls and bulldozers. Yearning to connect with a child and achieve a state of peaceful Forever Sleep, Buddy and his new friends of differing temperaments and gifts set out on a harrowing journey through the city to find children who will want them. As they encounter other Furringtons in disarray, this opener in The Teddies Saga series becomes a mystery about why these teddies are being harmed in the first place. While the visceral narrative follows the teddy troupe’s adventurous challenges and survival, its focus is on Buddy’s inner struggles as he ponders identity, leadership, and other existential dilemmas. Kraus doesn’t shy away from anger, fear, death, and other dark subjects; instead they become opportunities for growth in difficult environments. Cai’s intense, slightly nightmarish grayscale illustrations add immeasurably to the text. Reminiscent of Watership Down in theme and structure, the novel’s intermittent teddy creation stories also become parables of a moral code and extend the epic story arc. A cliffhanger ending sets the scene for the next installment.

Reflective children will revel in this thought-provoking world. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22440-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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