A delightful tale headlined by responsible tweens who just happen to be exceptional amateur detectives.

THE SHOCKOE SLIP GANG

A MYSTERY

Youngsters in Richmond, Virginia, are determined to find the thieves who looted a local art museum in this middle-grade mystery.

The last year hasn’t been easy for the Corbett children. Since their father’s death, the family has struggled financially. Now that it’s summer, 12-year-old Sally, who’s just off crutches from a lacrosse injury, can help younger brother, Andrew, 11, with his business. He handles everything from lawn care to feeding and walking pets. But the kids, along with Jane, the youngest, are shocked by a burglary at the museum where their mother, Cary, works. The thieves evidently zeroed in on antique American toys, which were part of an exhibition Cary had been organizing. As this show ties in with her recent promotion to head curator, the Corbetts are worried she’ll receive the blame for the thefts and lose her job. Consequently, Sally and Andrew decide to search for the culprits and recover the toys. They get their first big break from peer Henry Morrison, whose dad, Jim, is chairman of the museum’s board of trustees. Henry has a business similar to Andrew’s, and one of his clients had an antique toy that may have been from the exhibition. But going to speak with the client only leads to more questions and several suspects, including a suspicious motorcyclist the kids spotted prior to the robbery. As Sally, Andrew, and Henry inch closer to unmasking the thieves, they take increasing risks and may soon find themselves up against individuals more menacing than they could have ever imagined. Hass’ (Monument Avenue Memories, 2013, etc.) relatively short novel moves at a steady clip, due in large part to its succinct prose and tight editing. The author introduces the exceedingly likable Corbetts and skillfully teases the story’s mystery (by way of the shady motorcyclist) within the opening 10 pages. Sally, Andrew, and Henry are well-developed characters; they are all bright and considerate of others. Although they disregard cops’ warnings to stay away from the case and may commit a crime or two, the kids are generally cautious. For example, when they’re separated, they remain in contact as much as possible via cellphones. But more importantly, they’re responsible, as Andrew’s business takes precedence over any plan to follow up on a clue. In one instance, they decide first who’s cleaning a client’s pigeon coop before choosing which youngster will bike to check out a suspect’s workplace. The mystery isn’t difficult to unravel and often relies on coincidence. But Hass effectively generates a fraught narrative at the mere suggestion of danger. In one memorable scene, Sally, following the evidence, bikes to a store a distance away. Before she even arrives, an imminent storm produces dark clouds coupled with “low and ominous” rumbling thunder. The images by debut illustrator Corson resemble notebook sketches, but with copious details and shading. She deftly captures some of the book’s more intense sequences, though the highlight is a simple picture of little Jane enjoying a sandwich with the family cat in her lap. The author concludes her entertaining novel with a strong possibility of a sequel (Hint: The summer isn’t over).

A delightful tale headlined by responsible tweens who just happen to be exceptional amateur detectives.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-55877-6

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Windsong Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2019

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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