An enjoyable twisty mystery and coming-of-age story.

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A 12-year-old investigates suspicious circumstances surrounding a death in this middle-grade novel.

Sixth grader Sam Parsons, 12, isn’t enthused about accompanying his mother to the funeral of his great-uncle Buster. But Sam’s mom, Eva, insists, so they drive from Jacksonville, Florida, to Ashe County, North Carolina. Right away, things don’t seem right at Uncle Buster’s. He’s said to have died of a heart attack, but there are wounds on his hands, and no autopsy was performed. A fishy will leaves everything to his sisters, and they plan to sell his land for a tasteless tourist development; his books and papers have disappeared. Sam is “convinced that somebody murdered Uncle Buster. And I’m not about to let them get away with it.” Back in Jacksonville, Sam mulls over the case; meanwhile, his ambition to befriend Joey Sabatini (Joey’s father works for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sam’s favorite team) brings him into conflict with his best friend, Oscar Ruiz, and gets him in trouble at school. When Eva’s doubts grow, the family makes a return trip to North Carolina, where suspicions lead to arsenic poisoning. The clues are all there, but what do they add up to? In her second children’s book, Koehler offers a clever mystery with an appealing narrator. Sam is intelligent and observant, earning him praise by a local sheriff as “a fine detective.” Koehler does a great job of keeping him, as well as the reader, guessing through multiple convincing red herrings. In this entertaining mystery, Sam grows as a person. His desire to join Joey’s cool lacrosse crowd challenges him to reflect on friendship, loyalty, and empathy while a school project awakens a new interest in nature conservation.

An enjoyable twisty mystery and coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-947536-07-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Turtle Cove Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021


Though usually cast as the trickster, Coyote is more victim than victimizer, making this a nice complement to other Coyote...

Two republished tales by a Greco-Cherokee author feature both folkloric and modern elements as well as new illustrations.

One of the two has never been offered south of the (Canadian) border. In “Coyote Sings to the Moon,” the doo-wop hymn sung nightly by Old Woman and all the animals except tone-deaf Coyote isn’t enough to keep Moon from hiding out at the bottom of the lake—until she is finally driven forth by Coyote’s awful wailing. She has been trying to return to the lake ever since, but that piercing howl keeps her in the sky. In “Coyote’s New Suit” he is schooled in trickery by Raven, who convinces him to steal the pelts of all the other animals while they’re bathing, sends the bare animals to take clothes from the humans’ clothesline, and then sets the stage for a ruckus by suggesting that Coyote could make space in his overcrowded closet by having a yard sale. No violence ensues, but from then to now humans and animals have not spoken to one another. In Eggenschwiler’s monochrome scenes Coyote and the rest stand on hind legs and (when stripped bare) sport human limbs. Old Woman might be Native American; the only other completely human figure is a pale-skinned girl.

Though usually cast as the trickster, Coyote is more victim than victimizer, making this a nice complement to other Coyote tales. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-833-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017



Starting with a lonely slice of pizza pictured on the cover and the first page, Thornhill launches into a wide-ranging study of the history and culture of food—where it comes from, how to eat it and what our food industries are doing to the planet. It’s a lot to hang on that slice of pizza, but there are plenty of interesting tidbits here, from Clarence Birdseye’s experiments with frozen food to how mad cow disease causes the brain to turn spongy to industrial food production and global warming. Unfortunately, the volume is designed like a bad high-school yearbook. Most pages are laid out in text boxes, each containing a paragraph on a discrete topic, but with little in the way of an organizing theme to tie together the content of the page or spread. Too many colors, too much jumbled-together information and total reliance on snippets of information make this a book for young readers more interested in browsing than reading. Kids at the upper edge of the book's range would be better served by Richie Chevat's adaptation of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma (2009). (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-897349-96-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Maple Tree Press

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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