BERNIE MAGRUDER AND THE BATS IN THE BELFRY

The game’s afoot once again around the Bessledorf Hotel, whose quirky residents are joined by a secretive stranger, while anonymous warnings of poisonous bats, along with new church bells that play the same melody every 15 minutes, send all Middleburg into a tizzy. It seems that wealthy Mrs. Scuttlefoot left several valuable gifts to the church, and the rest of her fortune to surviving relatives, on the condition that her bells chime out “Abide with Me” until deaf old Mr. Scuttlefoot passes over. As time goes on, it begins to look more and more likely that he might get a helping hand from some maddened Middleburger. The general stress level rises even further when some very oddly behaved bats, along with a weird green glow, appear around the offending steeple. What’s going on? Leave it to young sherlock, Bernie, along with sidekicks Weasel and Georgene, to find out. With customary virtuosity, Naylor strews the tale with oddball characters, slapstick mishaps, and artful clues. In the end, bats and glow turn out to be artificial, a stratagem employed by an estranged Scuttlefoot son to keep his inheritance. As in previous episodes, however, things don’t turn out quite as planned. Another winner from this versatile veteran, replete with ingenious twists and capped by a wild Halloween night climax. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-85066-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.

A GIRL, A RACCOON, AND THE MIDNIGHT MOON

This is the way Pearl’s world ends: not with a bang but with a scream.

Pearl Moran was born in the Lancaster Avenue branch library and considers it more her home than the apartment she shares with her mother, the circulation librarian. When the head of the library’s beloved statue of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is found to be missing, Pearl’s scream brings the entire neighborhood running. Thus ensues an enchanting plunge into the underbelly of a failing library and a city brimful of secrets. With the help of friends old, uncertainly developing, and new, Pearl must spin story after compelling story in hopes of saving what she loves most. Indeed, that love—of libraries, of books, and most of all of stories—suffuses the entire narrative. Literary references are peppered throughout (clarified with somewhat superfluous footnotes) in addition to a variety of tangential sidebars (the identity of whose writer becomes delightfully clear later on). Pearl is an odd but genuine narrator, possessed of a complex and emotional inner voice warring with a stridently stubborn outer one. An array of endearing supporting characters, coupled with a plot both grounded in stressful reality and uplifted by urban fantasy, lend the story its charm. Both the neighborhood and the library staff are robustly diverse. Pearl herself is biracial; her “long-gone father” was black and her mother is white. Bagley’s spot illustrations both reinforce this and add gentle humor.

The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.   (reading list) (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6952-1

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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POWERLESS

From the Supers of Noble's Green series , Vol. 1

Resembling a Golden Age comic without the pictures, this tale pits a group of small-town children with superpowers—call them “preteen titans”—against a shadowy menace that robs them of those powers on their 13th birthdays. Coming to town with his family to care for his dying grandma, Daniel quickly spots his neighbor Mollie and her friends performing incredible feats. Soon he’s in their confidence, as they demonstrate combinations of super-speed, super-strength, enhanced senses and the ability to turn invisible. All of them can also hear the clock ticking, however. Gifted not with superpowers but a sharp mind and a fondness for Sherlock Holmes stories, Daniel sets out to discover how and why his new friends, like generations of their predecessors, are being robbed of their abilities. Where those abilities come from never enters in, but the obligatory wily supervillain does, leading to a titanic climactic battle. Cody wears his influences on his sleeve, but has some fun with them (one lad’s “power” is a super-stench) and crafts a tribute that, unlike M.T. Anderson’s Whales On Stilts (2005), is more admiring than silly. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-85595-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2009

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