If Inspector Clouseau were in grade school, he’d be Timmy Failure.
Timmy has a secret admirer. He knows this, as he’s received a note, covered in little hearts, that says, “You have a secret admirer!” His friends and relatives assume it’s from Molly Moskins, since she follows him around saying, “Doesn’t my Timmykins look handsomeful?”—and since another love note is signed, “LOVE MM (These are my initials).” Timmy assumes, with his typical logic, that the hearts are a coded death threat. “Think,” he says to his great-aunt. “The heart is what keeps you alive.” He has reason to be suspicious. He has very few admirers, partly because he keeps accusing his friends of crimes—especially Molly Moskins. In spite of that, they remain remarkably faithful and even help him solve the central mystery of the book, which loosely involves a detective contest at his school. Readers who found Timmy hard to take in his first book won’t like him—or the terrible puns—any better here. (One chapter is titled “The Lying, the Watch, and the Poor Globe.”) But his many fans will speed through the pages, and they’ll love Pastis’ illustrations, which feature an adorable polar bear shaped like a bowling pin. They may even adopt Timmy’s motto: “When you lose hope, find it.”
A loonily intellectual alternative to that wimpy kid. (Comic mystery. 8-12)