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From the Mysteries of Trash & Treasure series , Vol. 1

Fast-paced and enjoyable.

In the small town of Groveview, Ohio, two 12-year-olds solve a mystery.

Colin’s and Nevaeh’s families approach the business of material possessions from opposite directions: Colin’s single mom, who’s so minimalist his friends think the family is poor, runs Possession Curation, a company dedicated to helping people declutter their lives. Nevaeh comes from a large, loving family; her father, the self-proclaimed Junk King, never met scrap he wouldn’t keep until he could sell it. One day, Colin finds a box of letters dated 1973-77 and written by someone named Toby to a certain Rosemary hidden in his mother’s client’s attic. In the first letter in the shoebox, Toby pleads with Rosemary not to hate him. Meanwhile, Nevaeh helps her dad open a long-locked self-storage unit and finds it empty when it should have been full of antiques. Gradually, in third-person narratives that alternate between the two White tweens, Colin and Nevaeh meet, become friends, realize that their families share a history, and solve the entwining mystery of their finds. Haddix writes with her usual smooth skill in this series opener, weaving in an interesting theme about possessions and what they mean to different people. Nevaeh longs for Colin’s clean home, while Colin finds persistent beauty in the things his mother discards. Though the mystery they solve relies heavily on coincidence, it’s credible, as are all of Colin’s and Nevaeh’s actions. The characters are real and inviting, and the emotions ring true.

Fast-paced and enjoyable. (author’s note) (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283852-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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