Moxie and her bespectacled younger brother, Milton, are back to save Tiddlywhump Elementary once again.
Kicking off the action, Moxie’s best friend, Emily, receives a mysterious, very complimentary letter with a cryptic signature. Sassy, self-proclaimed detective Moxie, quite familiar with Death by Envelope, is certain this letter means something sinister. Grudgingly, Moxie partners with Milton to discover the identity of this diabolical Squiggler (Milton’s coinage). The partnership with Milton quickly becomes fractious, even dangerous, and after a stakeout results in Milton’s fall off a roof, he leaves a huffy Moxie and joins forces with Emily to solve the mystery. Moxie’s enthusiasm, impulsiveness, and way with words (“watching someone else do math is about as exciting as watching an earthworm take a nap”) make for exuberant entertainment. As in series opener The Real McCoys (2017), half the fun is that each page is like a firework show of funky typefaces and berserk graphics. Less enchanting than the original, though, is when Moxie steps outside mere Pippi Longstocking–esque shenanigans and into bullying, even manipulating one frightened first-grader into helping her by not allowing him to eat lunch. Moxie, however, does eventually recognize the wonderful ripple effects caused by acts of kindness. Moxie and Milton present white; Emily has slightly darker skin and two dads.
Fans might be a little disconcerted, but Moxie’s sleuthing is mostly good fun. (glossary) (Mystery. 8-12)