A worthwhile if occasionally clumsy children’s mystery for kids and tweens.



In Stim’s (Ivan the Not-So-Terrible, 2013, etc.) latest kids’ book, a 15-year-old thief, a torched houseboat and phone calls from herself are the latest puzzles facing a sharp 12-year-old girl.

Mary Frances “Frankie” Jackson is living for the summer on a Sausalito houseboat with her aunt Roxy (the relationship and Roxy’s surname aren’t made clear in this book, the third in the series). Frankie enjoys her life in California—things got a little dicey back in her native New Jersey—and the wonderfully colorful cast of characters living on the dock. Things get muddled when street-smart teenager Stacy Jones tries to scam donations and steal valuables from dock residents. Afraid “Stacy Lacey”—a star pitcher with a murky back story—will get her unjustly mixed up in another criminal case, Frankie and her K9-dropout German shepherd, Butch, track down the teen. After recovering a stolen pin, Frankie enlists Stacy to partner with her in a pitching contest tied to the reality show that followed a baseball star to Sausalito. Giants left fielder Ricky “The Chipmunk” Chimunsky plans to fill a berth on the dock with a mammoth houseboat for his supermodel girlfriend, upsetting the residents. That situation gets complicated when the existing houseboat at the berth suspiciously burns up in a fire; bizarrely, a caller claiming to be Frankie is the one who alerts her. Unfortunately, Frankie seems to solve little of this swirl of Marin County mystery, because other characters handle the big issues, as if the Hardy Boys did all the detecting but a chum actually cracked the case. This isn’t the narrative’s only misstep. Frankie’s constant references to her boat as a “house-boot”—an inside joke referencing Roxy’s French accent—get cloying quickly. Frankie also dots her narration with charming but inane court-ordered essays on what she’s learned, which do little to advance the plot. Despite these issues, the book features believable, amusingly insightful narration by its 12-year-old star, and it balances its drama—including youth in dangerous situations—perfectly between having a bite and being appropriate for young readers. Stim also handles the reality show well despite it feeling a little gimmicky; then again, those things are ubiquitous these days.

A worthwhile if occasionally clumsy children’s mystery for kids and tweens.  

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988809659

Page Count: 308

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2014

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...


Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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