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)