Key words: mixed race. Dyslexic. Twin. Girl. Private investigator. But the real question is: can she find the missing key to the library?
Although there are many labels that could be placed on this short chapter book’s protagonist, none of them matter to the plucky little heroine who loves to read. Lark Ba pops awake at 5:00 a.m. because she and her twin brother, Connor, are going to the library. But Mrs. Robinson has lost the key, and the library is not open! Lark’s insatiable appetite for learning makes her uniquely qualified to solve this mystery. Deen pens her first chapter book with a simple plot through which Lark’s character is explored. In first person, Lark explains the names of her paternal, Korean grandmother (Halmoni) and her maternal, Kenyan grandfather (Babu). Cutler’s illustrations depict these racial distinctions, but Lark goes through life just like many other sassy little heroines. She doesn’t even see the slight when a blonde, white girl named Sophie calls her “Baa baa Lark sheep.” Brother Connor, with the right amount of eye-rolling, provides the balance to this lively character, and the subjects of race and learning disabilities are incorporated neatly. Endnotes discuss some of the words Lark ponders.
Lark is a mixed-race girl debuting a lighthearted series; with a little effort, she may develop into a character with a fan base, like Ramona and Clementine before her. (Fiction. 6-9)