An amusing international adventure with some dicey internet practices.

THE MYSTERY OF THE MASKED MEDALIST

From the Kudo Kids series , Vol. 1

Siblings race to solve a series of puzzles only to get more than what they bargained for.

Japanese American siblings Andy and Mika Kudo are ecstatic. Since their mother is the editor-in-chief of Compete, a popular sports website, the family will experience their first visit to Japan during the upcoming Summer Olympics. The siblings will also be able to play Olypifan, a popular augmented-reality game app, right there on the ground in Tokyo. The two already have plans to find more clues and virtual medals, all in hopes of correctly guessing the identity of the Masked Medalist. Their excitement soars when they learn that the creator of the game—an actual Olympic athlete—will have the winners be the beta testers for their upcoming game. Things get even more interesting when rumors begin to spread: of teams cheating, mysterious notes, and possible hacks. Mika has her own secret—breaking a family rule with an Instagram account to enter the Olympic photography contest. Chat transcripts, online postings, and lively illustrations are interspersed throughout the text, with most of the intrigue and puzzle-solving occurring toward the end. There is little reflection on Mika’s unsanctioned social media account, even after she receives personal messages from a possible stalker. Disappointingly, there is no note or other reinforcement about online safety.

An amusing international adventure with some dicey internet practices. (Mystery. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-5931-1373-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...

THE LEMONADE CRIME

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers.

DRAGONS VS. UNICORNS

From the Kate the Chemist series

A fifth grade girl brings her love of chemistry to the school play.

Kate loves science so much she’s determined to breathe fire. Of course she knows that she needs adult supervision, and so, with her science teacher’s help, Kate demonstrates an experiment with cornstarch and a blowtorch that nearly sets her teacher’s cactus on fire. Consequences ensue. Can someone who loves science as much as Kate does find pleasure spending her fall break at drama camp? It turns out that even the school play—Dragons vs. Unicorns—needs a chemist, though, and Kate saves the day with glue and glitter. She’s sabotaged along the way, but everything is fine after Kate and her frenemy agree to communicate better (an underwhelming response to escalating bullying). Doodles decorate the pages; steps for the one experiment described that can be done at home—making glittery unicorn-horn glue—are included. The most exciting experiments depicted, though, include flames or liquid nitrogen and could only be done with the help of a friendly science teacher. Biberdorf teaches chemistry at the University of Texas and also performs science-education programs as “Kate the Chemist”; in addition to giving her protagonist her name and enthusiasm, she also seems represented in Kate-the-character’s love of the fictional YouTube personality “Dr. Caroline.” Kate and her nemesis are white; Kate’s best friends are black and South Asian.

A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11655-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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