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A Royal Conundrum

From the Misfits-Yee series, volume 1

by Lisa Yee ; illustrated by Dan Santat

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 2024
ISBN: 9781984830296
Publisher: Random House

Olive’s move to a new school leads to friends, adventures, and greater self-confidence in this series opener.

Invisible at school and forgotten by her distracted parents, 12-year-old Olive Cobin Zang is lonely and drifting. Her only source of solace is memories of her loving grandmother’s wise words. So, when Olive’s parents transfer her to the Reforming Arts School, a Bay Area boarding school located in a former prison, she is ambivalent but curious. The school’s unusual approach includes both individual and group placement auditions. These challenges reward often-overlooked skills that Olive and four other idiosyncratic new students turn out to embody: creativity, teamwork, and reasoning. The new pod of five coalesces, exuberant upon learning that they will “join an elite force of specially trained operatives” and become the youngest group ever to go undercover and bring fresh ideas to solving crime. The self-styled Misfits have finally found their calling, but will it last? A crisis is unfolding: The villainous Bling King could keep the school’s main benefactor from attending the annual fundraiser, threatening the school’s existence as well as the Misfits’ own ambitions and newfound feelings of sanctuary. The straightforward storyline has more telling than showing, making it accessible to younger and reluctant readers. Readers will delight in the cartoonlike worldbuilding, zany capers, and plentiful and expressive illustrations. Olive is Chinese American and white; there’s racial diversity among the remaining cast.

A fantastical blend of quirky characters and goofy adventures.

(Adventure. 8-12)