It’s hard not to like this realistic, convincing, coming-of-age summer-camp story with a hint of mystery. (Fiction. 9-12)

READ REVIEW

CEDAR DANCE

An awkward 12-year-old boy faces unexpected challenges during his school’s annual summer camp in this Canadian import.

Raised by his single-parent, hippie mother, Charles Cedar Dance, a scrawny, white sixth-grader, knows little about his father except that his mother met him at an anti-logging protest in 2005 and never heard from him again. Charles attends a private, alternative school for the “granola crowd,” where he’s “not a total outcast” but tends “to live at the edges of the action,” relying on his best friend, Jessica. Arriving at the camp, Charles encounters an anti-logging protest group, and Jessica points out that one of the protesters looks just like Charles. With mixed feelings, Charles surreptitiously spies on the neighboring protestors’ camp, hoping to find out more about his look-alike. During the process, he discovers a man in a black hoodie who’s also spying on the protestors. Gradually, Charles becomes convinced the look-alike is indeed his father. Conflicted about confronting his father and worried the stranger in the hoodie intends to harm the protestors, Charles finds himself in trouble as he grapples with everything. With honesty, humor, and self-awareness, Charles tells his story, emerging as an intelligent, sensitive kid who eventually makes the right choices. The environmental-awareness subtext fits in. The book adheres to a white default.

It’s hard not to like this realistic, convincing, coming-of-age summer-camp story with a hint of mystery. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77337-016-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Great Plains Publications

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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

ALI CROSS

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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SPACE CASE

From the Moon Base Alpha series , Vol. 1

When Dr. Holtz’s body is discovered just outside the lunar colony, everyone assumes he made a mistake putting on his spacesuit—but 12-year-old Dashiell “Dash” Gibson has reason to believe this was no accident.

Earth’s first space base has been a living hell for Dash. There’s not much to do on the moon besides schoolwork and virtual-reality gaming, and there’s only a handful of kids his age up there with him. The chance to solve a murder is exactly the type of excitement Dash needs. As clues are found and secrets are uncovered, Dash comes to understand that some of the base’s residents aren’t what they seem to be. With a small cast of characters supplying an excellent variety of suspects, Gibbs creates the best kind of “murder on a train” mystery. The genius, however, is putting the train in space. Closed quarters and techno–mumbo-jumbo add delightful color to the proceedings. Thankfully, the author doesn’t let the high-concept setting overshadow the novel’s mystery. The whodunit is smartly paced and intricately plotted. Best of all, the reveal is actually worth all the buildup. Thrillers too often fly off the rails in their final moments, but the author’s steady hand keeps everything here on track.

Fully absorbing. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9486-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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