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)