A gratifying, fashionable mystery set amid the iconic backdrop of New York.

THE MYSTERY IN MANHATTAN

From the Kudo Kids series , Vol. 2

While vacationing in New York, a brother and sister find themselves solving the mystery of a disappearing dress.

Andy and Mika Kudo from The Mystery of the Masked Medalist (2020) are back, and this time they’re going through transitions of their own. Sixth grader Mika struggles to find a theme for her latest photography club assignment while Andy, who is in seventh grade, worries that the two are slowly growing apart. When their parents’ work takes them to the Big Apple, the duo is eager for the weeklong vacation spent visiting their cousin Jenny. When their Aunt Kei, a fashion designer, gets overwhelmed with work, they volunteer to run a few errands in the city. However, everything snowballs into a full-blown catastrophe when her signature design disappears after going for repairs. Always hungry for a puzzle, the trio chase clues across New York landmarks to find the dress in time for their aunt’s presentation. As with the first title, text messages, lists, and lively, detailed cartoonlike illustrations make for welcome breaks in the narrative. Complications to the mystery are artfully revealed at an even pace, with the action really picking up toward the end. The result is a perfectly tied up and satisfactory ending. Andy and Mika, like the Olympic ice-dancing sibling author duo, are Japanese American.

A gratifying, fashionable mystery set amid the iconic backdrop of New York. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11376-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.

A GIRL, A RACCOON, AND THE MIDNIGHT MOON

This is the way Pearl’s world ends: not with a bang but with a scream.

Pearl Moran was born in the Lancaster Avenue branch library and considers it more her home than the apartment she shares with her mother, the circulation librarian. When the head of the library’s beloved statue of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is found to be missing, Pearl’s scream brings the entire neighborhood running. Thus ensues an enchanting plunge into the underbelly of a failing library and a city brimful of secrets. With the help of friends old, uncertainly developing, and new, Pearl must spin story after compelling story in hopes of saving what she loves most. Indeed, that love—of libraries, of books, and most of all of stories—suffuses the entire narrative. Literary references are peppered throughout (clarified with somewhat superfluous footnotes) in addition to a variety of tangential sidebars (the identity of whose writer becomes delightfully clear later on). Pearl is an odd but genuine narrator, possessed of a complex and emotional inner voice warring with a stridently stubborn outer one. An array of endearing supporting characters, coupled with a plot both grounded in stressful reality and uplifted by urban fantasy, lend the story its charm. Both the neighborhood and the library staff are robustly diverse. Pearl herself is biracial; her “long-gone father” was black and her mother is white. Bagley’s spot illustrations both reinforce this and add gentle humor.

The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.   (reading list) (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6952-1

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read.

ALI CROSS

From the Ali Cross series , Vol. 1

The prolific king of the beach read is back with an intergenerational mystery for the 9-to-12-year-old set.

Ali Cross, the son of Patterson’s most famous creation, African American homicide detective Alex Cross, is “starting to think the worst might have happened” to his mixed-race friend Gabriel “Gabe” Qualls, who disappeared on Dec. 21 and hasn’t been heard from as of Christmas Eve, when the book opens. Ali offers an impromptu prayer for Gabe at the pre-holiday service at his all-black church as well as an impromptu press conference outside of it as journalists and paparazzi confront Alex about his alleged coma-inducing assault of a murder suspect’s father. Then someone robs the Crosses’ home that night along with four other homes; the Crosses’ Christmas gifts are stolen. Ali, obsessed with finding Gabe and feeling that these events will distract his dad and the police from searching for him, starts his own investigation—complete with looking at some contraband footage of Gabe’s unusually loaded backpack obtained by Ali’s stepmother, also a cop—and questioning his school and gaming pals, a diverse group. Writing in Ali’s voice with occasional cutaways to third-person chapters that follow Alex, Patterson sprinkles the narrative with pop-culture references even as he takes readers through the detective process.

Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53041-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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