Lark and Connor Ba, twin detectives, are back at work when the town’s annual baking contest starts off with a sabotaged sweet.
The fourth book in this chapter book’s series finds Lark Ba, the spunky and personable heroine, logically outlining the steps to find the culprit. Before the baking competition began, everyone thought Sophie, Lark’s classmate, would win first prize. When her babushka’s kutia pudding is found splattered on the ground, the whole event is in jeopardy. Who would do such a thing? With their distinctive banter, the mixed-race Ba twins (of Korean and Kenyan descent) carefully search for clues, their methodical process encouraging readers to solve the mystery along with them. Cutler’s illustrations set the emotional tone of the story, showing a wide range of reactions from the familiar, notably diverse cast of characters. As in the rest of this series, Deen serves up notable side dishes while the detectives search for the main course. Lark continues to struggle with vocabulary words and jargon, an issue all new readers will recognize. With her trademark humor, she reaches for (and misses) complex vocabulary words that are revealed in the backmatter. Even with these challenges, careful logic and thoroughness earn the Ba twins the respect of the town’s adults.
This is a solid and growing detective series for transitioning readers, with a dyslexic multicultural heroine—an inspiring role model for today’s world. (Mystery. 6-9)