From the 39 Clues—Graphic Novel series , Vol. 1

Wits and history expertise trump money and influence in this entertaining, globe-hopping remake.

The wildly popular 39 Clues series is adapted into graphic-novel format.

Orphans Amy Cahill and her younger brother, Dan, attend their grandmother’s funeral and learn that not only is the Cahill family tree larger than they knew, but that Grandma left each of them a most unusual inheritance. They may opt for $1 million or a clue leading to “the most important treasure in the world.” Some relatives take the money, but the rest choose the clue—including Amy and Dan. Tensions ramp up as family members pursue and threaten one another in the search for leads. Though the siblings aren’t as financially well off as many of their opponents, they have skills that give them an edge—Amy is a bookworm with a love of history, while Dan is a whiz with numbers and puzzles. The story remains faithful to the original 2008 book, with added smartphone appearances and a few scenes tightened up. The artwork captures the danger and excitement of the international quest, including locales such as Philadelphia and Paris. Backmatter includes an invitation to download Scholastic’s Home Base app so readers can be sorted into a branch of the Cahill family and play interactive games. Amy and Dan read White, while their au pair and adult chaperone, Nellie, is cued as Latine; the rest of the Cahill clan is racially diverse.

Wits and history expertise trump money and influence in this entertaining, globe-hopping remake. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 9781338803372

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023


From the Pathfinders Society series , Vol. 1

Like the pathfinders, readers will be crying, “Plus Ultra!” and hoping for the next adventure.

Five intrepid, young pathfinders explore the environmentally volatile Windrose Valley in search of a fabled treasure.

Deep in Windrose Valley awaits an adventurous summer at Camp Pathfinder, founded by a renowned, eccentric pioneer named Henry Merriweather. Merriweather’s fixation on finding the legendary Windrose treasure serves as a grand catalyst for the campers’ quest. The eclectic group of campers—newcomer Kyle, history buff Beth, zany magician-in-training Harry, cheerleader/math queen Vic, and tinkerer Nate—sets off, running all over town to find Merriweather’s baroque tile markers. Eventually, their efforts lead them to the Merriweather Estate, where the campers slowly uncover the mystery behind the Moon Tower catastrophe. Shortly after the bizarre incident, Merriweather disappeared, and the town’s fortunes failed. As the adolescent pathfinders near the trail toward the Moon Tower and inch ever closer to the treasure, they learn more about the mythical Merriweather and his infamous obsession. Sedita, Seraydarian, and Hamaker’s series debut zips along nicely, mixing cryptic teases with affable characters. Though the quieter moments rarely make much of an impact, the authors’ exposition-heavy worldbuilding incites enthusiasm for the campers’ endeavor. The hints of magic in the snappy illustrations add another layer of allure. Featuring flashes of time slips and a racially diverse cast, this graphic novel hits all the right spots for the inevitable sequel.

Like the pathfinders, readers will be crying, “Plus Ultra!” and hoping for the next adventure. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-425-29186-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020


From the Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter series , Vol. 2

Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark.

An animal ghost seeks closure after enduring aquatic atrocities.

In this sequel to The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter (2020), sixth grader Rex is determined to once again use his ability to communicate with dead animals for the greater good. A ghost narwhal’s visit gives Rex his next opportunity in the form of the clue “bad water.” Rex enlists Darvish—his Pakistani American human best friend—and Drumstick—his “faithful (dead) chicken”—to help crack the case. But the mystery is only one of Rex’s many roadblocks. For starters, Sami Mulpepper hugged him at a dance, and now she’s his “accidental girlfriend.” Even worse, Darvish develops one of what Rex calls “Game Preoccupation Disorders” over role-playing game Monsters & Mayhem that may well threaten the pair’s friendship. Will Rex become “a Sherlock without a Watson,” or can the two make amends in time to solve the mystery? This second outing effectively carries the “ghost-mist” torch from its predecessor without feeling too much like a formulaic carbon copy. Spouting terms like plausible deniability and in flagrante delicto, Rex makes for a hilariously bombastic (if unlikable) first-person narrator. The over-the-top style is contagious, and black-and-white illustrations throughout add cartoony punchlines to various scenes. Unfortunately, scenes in which humor comes at the expense of those with less status are downright cringeworthy, as when Rex, who reads as White, riffs on the impossibility of his ever pronouncing Darvish’s surname or he plays dumb by staring into space and drooling.

Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark. (Paranormal mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5523-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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