A problem-solving sixth grader adds annoying siblings to his caseload in this third installment of a middle-grade series.
For more than a year, sixth grader Dewey Fairchild has been in the business of providing solutions to difficult parent and teacher conundrums. He has an office hidden in the attic, which is kept well supplied with delicious home-baked cookies thanks to Dewey’s 94-year-old assistant, Clara Cottonwood. After winter break, Dewey gets another problem-parent case: Sixth grader Archie Thomas’ mother won’t let him play video games during the week. Although Dewey helps them reach a compromise, Mrs. Thomas gets too involved in social media, embarrassing the mediator’s older sister, Angelica: “She’s suddenly all over the Internet and up in my business.” Dewey comes to the rescue again but then faces a new challenge: solving sibling problems. One girl has a little brother who won’t leave her alone (“Yesterday he ran around with his fart in a jar chasing me”), a boy’s little sister keeps coming into his room and messing with his things, and Dewey’s own sisters discover his secret office. Dewey’s elaborate schemes sometimes backfire entertainingly, such as his plan to improve sibling closeness through a fake bikenapping (the ransom to be paid in Tootsie Pops). But he does learn that younger siblings generally just want some attention, and even a small amount goes a long way. Horn (Dewey Fairchild: Teacher Problem Solver, 2018, etc.) offers a lot of laughs with these amusing misadventures: Adam Bautista-Knickerbocker, for example, shoves pancakes into his older sister’s slippers and shakes up a can of soda to spray all over her. Adults, too, can be comic, as with Mrs. Thomas’ hapless forays into social media: liking her own posts, using the wrong emoji, overtagging. But the author delivers some serious reflections that elevate this book beyond flubs and pranks. For example, a girl’s hot-pink bike and pink, purple, and blue helmet prompt thoughts about why readers associate color with gender and why they have gender-reveal parties. While Dewey is white, the cast includes kids of color.
Both hilarious and wise—another winner in this adventure series.