An adventurous romp, as atmospheric as incense and as smooth as lemonade on a summer day.

3 BELOW

From the Floors series , Vol. 2

Leo Fillmore, 11 years old and proprietor of New York City’s most engagingly eccentric hotel (Floors, 2011), returns with a juicy, potentially calamitous dilemma.

When Leo learns that Merganzer D. Whippet, ex-owner of the Whippet Hotel (now in Leo’s capable if fumbly hands) and maker of wacky inventions, had neglected to pay the hotel’s taxes to the tune of $700,000, he has to unravel Merganzer’s strange instructions in order to save the joint from sale to an avaricious developer. (Actually, it is $7 million, but Merganzer is challenged in the 0’s department.) But it is as though Merganzer is speaking in tongues: “Remember!...Four Floogers, a zip rope, and the iron box!...An isle of Penguins, a boy named Twist, Robinson Crusoe!” Carman, however, is an intricate yet bell-clear storyteller, all the many wheels freely spinning but meshed, and soon a Flooger is as obvious and necessary as the pink rhinoceros in the diamond mine. The characters are slap-happy and tomfool without overdoing their weird behavior, though Carman may be at his best in creating the very strange world of the hotel, from its magical, duck-infested rooftop to the Realm of Gears in the super-sub-basement. Then, when all seems lost, in rides the cavalry, as is only right.

An adventurous romp, as atmospheric as incense and as smooth as lemonade on a summer day. (Magical adventure. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-25520-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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