The Mystery of The Missing Buddha

A SINGH SISTERS' ADVENTURE

In Mahajan’s debut kids’ book, vacationing sisters encounter a mystery in India.
Twins Tara and Meera, 14, of New Delhi, aren’t identical. Tara is “a little princess” fond of clothes and accessories, while tomboy Meera prefers mystery novels and basketball. Together, they travel by bus to Dharamshala, home of cousin Samir, his younger sister, Deepa, and uncle Jeet Singh, a senior officer in the Secret Service. On the way, at Kangra, Meera notices a man in fluorescent green shoes with a distinctive buckle, but she must then reboard the bus. In Dharamshala, a guesthouse has been ransacked, a French tourist has gone missing and valuable idols are being stolen from temples. On a stroll, Meera glimpses a young monk, about 7 years old, with a shaved head and a maroon robe, but he moves quickly out of view, occasionally reappearing to her. In a tree, Samir finds a blue backpack containing a white powder, similar to talcum, which might be cocaine. After a birthday party, the children are joined by Samir’s friend Anurag. Although young Deepa is fascinated by television, Meera, Tara, Samir and Anurag prefer to solve the puzzles related to the disappearance, the thefts and a possible connection to an American named Greg. The story, set entirely in India, is a fine introduction to mystery for young readers, sustaining interest without the intensity found in YA staples such as the Harry Potter series. The characters are a balanced mix of athleticism (Samir), curiosity (Anurag), disinterest (Deepa), self-interest (Tara) and introspection (Meera), and their relations with family are positive. As events progress, the kids carefully collect evidence and use observation and reasoning to reach conclusions. Technology doesn’t save the day: A cellphone may be used for an Internet search, or it might be out of signal range, forcing reliance on other resources. Although Uncle Jeet plays a role in the investigation, the children, when at risk, take responsibility for extricating themselves from danger. Aside from a few distracting word mix-ups—e.g., “snooze” for noose, and “cookie” for kooky—the tale moves along nicely, with a satisfying ending that features a nifty spiritual twist.
Beginner mystery, light on menace, for young sleuths in the making.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1482821468

Page Count: 174

Publisher: PartridgeIndia

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath...

GREGORY AND THE GRIMBOCKLE

In this debut middle-grade novel, a lonely boy finds friendship and learns about the magic of human connection.

Defined by the large mole on his lip, 10-year-old Gregory has grown distant from his family. He is friendless and withdrawn. Then one night a strange little creature emerges from Gregory’s mole. It is riding a (quite lovable) cockroach and can change size. This is the Grimbockle. The Grimbockle—one of many Bockles, who, like Palmer Cox’s Brownies, live at the peripheries of human awareness—tends to the exoodles that bind people together. Exoodles are long, transparent, noodlelike threads and are usually invisible. Once Gregory has his eyeballs painted with Carrot Juicy, though, he can see them. He joins the Grimbockle and the roach, traveling the exoodles as if on a high-speed roller coaster. Exoodles wither and die when people don’t look after their relationships. The Grimbockle is trying to repair a particularly sickly exoodle that links a boy to his mother. Can Gregory help—and can he mend the exoodles in his own life? Schubert follows delightedly in the footsteps of Roald Dahl, opening her unfortunate young protagonist’s eyes to a previously unseen world both weird and wondrous (yet for all its outlandish magic, oddly logical). The scenario is one of riotous imagination, while the Grimbockle himself—brought sweetly to life in black-and-white illustrations by Kraft—is a sprightly and good-natured little person, full of the type of singsong infelicities found in Dahl’s beloved nonhuman characters: “Is you ever seeing glimpses of squiggles in the corners of your twinklers but then they is disappearing in a snippety blink?” “ ‘Exoodles!’ shouted the Grimbockle in triumph. ‘Sometimes, hoo-mans is getting so twisty and wound up in extra exoodles that they is feeling gloomy blue and heavy all day long.’ ” The story is perhaps too much of a parable to fully match Dahl’s template; the adventure is safer and the threats less dark. Nonetheless, readers should fall willingly and with thrilled abandon into the fizzy, fanciful world of Gregory and his Grimbockle friend.

A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath surface appearances.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9911109-3-3

Page Count: 153

Publisher: New Wrinkle Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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