Though he’s no teacher’s pet, Mickey’s smarts make him a welcome protagonist.


From the Mickey Rangel Mysteries series , Vol. 3

The principal enlists Mickey’s help to find a graffiti artist who is trashing the school in Saldaña’s third bilingual mystery.

Fifth-grade detective Mickey Rangel feels like a stuck pig at a barbecue when Mrs. Abrego calls him down to her office; what could he be on the hot seat for? When Mrs. A starts talking about the rash of graffiti that has recently tarnished the school, Mickey frantically rushes to protest his innocence. Mrs. A talks him down; she knows he didn’t do it, but maybe he can figure out who did. Mickey dubs this miscreant the Mischievous Marker and finds a major clue in the latest graffiti message: “Our Principle’s no ‘pal’ of nobodies!” Top-notch speller Mickey notices the problems right away. At lunch that day, when Mickey sees his lifelong archnemesis, Bucho, giving Mickey’s twin brother, Ricky, a hard time, he imagines how sweet it would be if he could prove that the troublemaker Bucho was the Magic Marker Mischief Maker. And if not him, then who? Mickey will need to question more persons of interest and nail down the timeline to crack the case. The brief, fast-moving mystery appears first in English, then Spanish, in Villarroel’s translation. Saldaña's prose is peppy, and his mystery, while quickly solved, hammers home a solid grammar lesson as a bonus.

Though he’s no teacher’s pet, Mickey’s smarts make him a welcome protagonist. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55885-776-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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


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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The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.


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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