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From the Wilcox & Griswold Mystery series

A hard-boiled text for determined new readers in pursuit of wordplay.

A whodunit for newly independent readers with wordplay galore.

Detective Wilcox and Capt. Griswold are two anthropomorphic mice on the crime beat at the farm. They are “Missing Food Investigators.” The text that follows their story is broken up into some sections that emulate police logs and short chapters with narrative text and dialogue. Both parts, however, are laden with puns. “The poached egg” of the title is a stolen egg belonging to one Henrietta Hen. When she calls to report the crime Wilcox asks, “Did she fly the coop?” The MFIs interrogate various suspects about potential “fowl play” around the farm, including the loquacious Gabby Goose and Col. Peck, the rooster. Handwriting analysis and the thief’s slip-up at an egg contest lead the rodent gumshoes to the culprit, a “rotten egg” indeed, by the end of the book. Cartoon illustrations bolster the humor of the text and will provide some context clues, though the layout is rather cluttered and the text is likely too complex in large, overwhelming text blocks for many new readers; kids readying themselves to move on to chapter books should find it a suitable challenge.

A hard-boiled text for determined new readers in pursuit of wordplay. (Early reader. 7-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939547-30-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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From the S.O.S.: Society of Substitutes series , Vol. 1

A new chapter-book adventure series opens with a whimper.

The mystery of missing class pets: Is something nefarious afoot?

Second grader Milton Worthy feeds the class ferret, Noah, before class begins and then doesn’t close the cage securely. When Noah escapes, that’s when things get odd. Mrs. Baltman sends them out for an unscheduled early recess, and when they return, she is gone. In her place is a substitute: Milton’s mother. Mrs. Worthy doesn’t behave like a normal sub, either. She sends some students on a ferret hunt while others are ordered to seek blueprints of the school. While the class is on yet another unscheduled recess, Milton hides to spy on his mother and discovers her great secret. His mother is a helmet-wearing secret agent sent from the Society of Substitutes to thwart Noah, an evil genius who intends to teleport everyone to Evil Pet Island. A distracting overuse of ellipses and a disjointed narrative are bound to make this a challenge for readers transitioning to chapter books; milestones appear at the end of each chapter, but use of devices such as questions or comments to boost reader engagement is inconsistent. A mix of prose with speech bubbles in the cartoon illustrations may appeal to readers comfortable with comics. Diversity is conveyed primarily through the illustrations, buttressed by naming convention; Mrs. Baltman, Milton’s mother, and Milton all present White, though the class as a whole appears more diverse.

A new chapter-book adventure series opens with a whimper. (prompts) (Adventure. 7-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-290929-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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