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A story that motivates justice and inspires kindness, this will have readers hoping for another outing with these appealing...

The worlds of three Harlem kids collide in an intriguing historical mystery.

Jin spends most afternoons minding Halmoni and Harabeoji's bodega until a mysterious black girl from her class sticks a free MetroCard to a jar of pickles. Cautious but intrigued, the Korean-American girl confronts Alexandra at school to try and join in on the secret acts of charity. Although Alex has enjoyed her independent, low-key philanthropy, meeting Jin helps her expand her good deeds around the neighborhood. On their way to drop food off at the homeless shelter, a small black boy in an oversized coat attempts to steal a loaf of bread. Elvin's failed bread-heist introduces him to two new, generous friends. When he shares that his grandfather fell into a coma after an attack in the community garden where a rare painting was found, the trio sets out to unearth the truth. Tarpley welds the past and present perceptions of Harlem in her latest book. Jin, Elvin, and Alex cherish their community while respecting their different approaches to justice for its residents. The history, urban planning, and out-of-touch politics wrapped around the neighborhood can be applied to any inner city. The young detectives' curiosity, passion, and belief in one another carry the plot smoothly from start to finish.

A story that motivates justice and inspires kindness, this will have readers hoping for another outing with these appealing protagonists. (author’s notes) (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-78387-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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From the Spy School series , Vol. 3

Will satisfy fans but could be better.

Young CIA agent-in-training Benjamin Ripley switches sides—or is he just going undercover?—in this graphic version of the third Spy School caper.

Sticking to the plot of the 2015 original, this episode sees the talented math whiz recruited by nefarious organization SPYDER after being (unjustly, he fumes) kicked out of the CIA’s academy. While training in a hidden school for evildoers with other prospective villains, including Ashley Sparks, a gushy former competitive gymnast with a fondness for portmanteau words (sweet + awesome = swawesome), Ben gets wind of a dastardly scheme to make billions on government construction projects. Hot if inept pursuit by both rival espionage agencies takes Ben from a secret underground command center to the top of the Statue of Liberty. But while the action has a rapid flow in the art (Sarkar is good at portraying fights, high-speed chases, and explosions), several characters are drawn with generic features and such a limited range of expressions that even with help from the cast gallery, it’s hard to tell them apart easily. Still, along with coming through in the suspenseful climax—thanks to clever deductions and quick thinking—by the end, Ben has also achieved a long-sought breakthrough with Erica Hale (code name “Ice Queen”), a superbly omnicompetent schoolmate who has his heart as well as his back. The cast largely presents white.

Will satisfy fans but could be better. (Graphic thriller. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781665931946

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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A riddling, sporting adventure and a story of true friendship.

“Like three sides of the same triangle, none of us can imagine what life would be like if we weren’t together.”

Sarah, West, and Hannah have been an intrepid trio since they first met. They bring their passion for math and numbers and their perfectly aligned strengths to solving escape rooms. With a foreclosure looming on Sarah’s family home—which would mean moving to live with her grandparents in Michigan—the only solution is to seek out the rumored Triplet Treasure belonging to Hans, Stefan, and Karl Stein. The treasure is supposedly hidden in a long-abandoned fun house they built in the 1950s. To outmaneuver the triplets’ ingenious riddles and tricks, the friends will need to overcome personal obstacles and unlock the doors within themselves. While the stakes are high, it’s reassuring for readers to know that Sarah’s family has a place to go, even if it’s far away from her friends. Early chapters detail the health challenges faced by Sarah’s father; his chronic illness has placed a strain on the family’s finances. Currie sets up a moving metaphor: Sarah’s enthusiasm for escape rooms becomes a means of tackling the unsolvable puzzle that has left her parent confined to his own inescapable room. This topic is treated with a gentle touch, but Sarah’s emotional depths could have been explored more deeply; West’s and Hannah’s emotional arcs are fulfilling, however. Main characters read white.

A riddling, sporting adventure and a story of true friendship. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781728259536

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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