Discouraged after a trick goes awry, a kid magician gets the opportunity to wow his peers at the school talent show in this third installment of a chapter book series.
Last seen solving a spooky mystery during an overnight school trip to the local museum, third-grader Finn Fasser—with the help of his best friend, Botts—is eager to show off his new escape trick on the Labanzo Magic Studio stage. After three months of magic lessons with Mr. Labanzo, Finn is nervous but determined to be a success despite taunts from his classmate Felix (the boy’s nemesis and the studio’s popular star magician). Embarrassed by a hitch in the trick, which requires an escape from chains and locks, and burned by more taunts from Felix, Finn is so upset that he cancels his plan to repeat the stunt at his school’s upcoming talent show. It doesn’t help that Felix manipulates him into playing a prank that earns good student Finn detention for the very first time. In this series entry, Knight (Finn & Botts: Double Trouble at the Museum, 2019, etc.) offers another appealing tale featuring humor and kid-savvy dilemmas. Encounters with class bullies, supportive interactions among Finn and his friends, and responsible adults to turn to as needed are regular components of the author’s plots. Here, a sneaky kid and his sidekicks get their comeuppance, Mr. Labanzo’s encouraging words give Finn the confidence he needs to try his trick again—unexpectedly facilitated by Felix, whose motive is suspect—and a mystery is solved. (Someone has accessed the school computer and changed students’ grades.) Meyers (Ballpark Mysteries 15, 2019, etc.) again captures fun and suspense in his full-page, black-and-white, gray-toned illustrations of children who just happen to have the snouts and ears of pigs but are otherwise just regular human kids. One small slip: presumably Knight meant to use the word “devious” rather than “deviant” in describing Felix’s smile.
An entertaining tale with realistic kids whom young readers can relate to and well-integrated, character-building messages.