Fans will be satisfied and look expectantly for Book 7.

THE CAT STOLE MY PANTS

From the Timmy Failure series , Vol. 6

Timmy Failure, world-class detective, is on the case even when on vacation.

Timmy’s mother and Doorman Dave may or may not have gotten married (Timmy fainted at the wedding and is still not convinced it actually occurred). The three are on a honeymoon trip to Key West, and Doorman Dave has brought along his nephew, Emilio Empanada, to keep Timmy company. As usual, mysteries flock to Timmy like murderous chickens to chicken feed. Someone is sending Timmy threatening notes, and his former partner, the imaginary polar bear Total, has scarpered for Cuba. Timmy enlists Emilio as an unpaid intern to assist with lighthouse infiltration, pirating, and book sales. Can Timmy and Emilio raise enough money to continue their investigations while avoiding the terror that lurks in the butterfly conservancy? Pastis’ sixth wry and dry comic caper (again with chapter titles that will flit over the heads of the target audience, as they riff on Hemingway titles and old songs, as well as the egregiously named Emilio Empanada) features a couple of real mysteries for the obstinately clueless Timmy Failure as well as a familial first: meeting his dad. Pastis’ black-and-white cartoon illustrations on nearly every page are a goofy boon.

Fans will be satisfied and look expectantly for Book 7. (Graphic/mystery hybrid. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9733-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

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An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.

THE MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER

Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

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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