An engaging mystery that cleverly celebrates the quirkiness of not being neurotypical.

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THE CASE OF THE BERRY BURGLARS

From the West Meadows Detectives series , Vol. 3

Autistic detective Myron and his third-grade friends are back to solve their third mystery.

Someone is stealing strawberry plants from the neighborhood that surrounds Warbler Woods. The first victim is Simone, an older student and also autistic, who was growing strawberries in the school garden. Many others also lose plants in the coming days. Once again, very active Hajrah, who is a classmate in Myron’s special needs class, is his partner in the investigation. The pair considers a variety of suspects, but Myron’s methodical thinking helps him eliminate most. The young detectives’ good-natured persistence keeps them on the trail of the thieves. Grand’s simple illustrations depict a multiracial group and also break up the pages of text. (Myron and Simone present white, while Hajrah has brown skin and long, black hair.) Myron and Simone are matter-of-fact about their autism. Although they interact well with their classmates, Myron readily acknowledges his differences, and Simone comments, “People will always stare, Myron. And they will always laugh. Even when you try to be what they want you to be.” But she goes on to cheerfully comment on how much the other kids miss out on and cheerfully continues with her relaxing activity that’s causing the stares—burying her hands in the soil. Even those behind the pilfered plants, eventually revealed, have a sympathetic, pathos-infused motive.

An engaging mystery that cleverly celebrates the quirkiness of not being neurotypical. (Mystery. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77147-306-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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Perhaps the captain’s next outing will find all its elements in better sync.

CAPTAIN COCONUT AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING BANANAS

From the Captain Coconut series , Vol. 1

Part clever Sherlock Holmes, part bumbling Maxwell Smart, the turbaned Capt. Coconut is a new detective on the scene.

He sets out to solve a case involving the three members of an Indian household: Mrs. Y, her sister, and her nephew, Gilli. Mrs. Y bought 14 bananas, but some are missing. She can account for four—they were eaten—but only six can still be found. After using his calculator to perform the simple mathematical task involved, the detective quickly realizes how many are gone, but the determined sleuth must still find the perpetrator. References, visual and verbal, to Bollywood musical interludes and vaudeville slapstick (remember banana peels) spice up the action, but the math is not complex enough for readers who have the sophistication to enjoy the dry wit and the unusual collage panels of this short graphic novel. The foolish detective, with his round belly sticking out of his safari suit and his red knee socks matching his red paisley nose, can’t open his office door or start his scooter, but of course he does finally solve the mystery. Suffice it to say, an unpleasant stomach ailment provides a clue. Creative readers can provide their own tunes for the three original songs, and the digital collages are filled with zany retro details.

Perhaps the captain’s next outing will find all its elements in better sync. (Graphic mystery. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-93-83145-22-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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