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From the Great Mistake Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Readers who can get past the tonal quibbles will appreciate seeing how this class geek discovers that some of his brainy...

A bomb threat leads to early school dismissal and leaves Stephen entangled in intrigue.

Stephen likes to count his mistakes and has a tendency to read too much into things. These qualities don’t make him a favorite of his grade-seven classmates, but they do make him especially fit to solve a crime involving a rogue Volkswagen Beetle and a bomb threat. Additionally, Stephen has just been entrusted with his first dog-walking job. The boisterous dogs, Ping and Pong, are mismatched in size, hard to control, and irresistible. When Stephen is an unwitting witness to a serious incident, the dogs become a target of threats. Stephen begrudgingly allows his classmate Renée, the only other student as brainy and perhaps less popular than he, to assist him in figuring out the culprit and protecting the pups. Counting his mistakes throughout the day as a kind of deductive reasoning, Stephen gradually arrives at the culprit from among the likely suspects of the all-white cast of characters. Stephen is a slightly older Encyclopedia Brown plunked into a modern-day, unsavory scenario. The school violence is treated oddly lightly, so the balance of tone versus content is off-kilter. The descriptions of canine exuberance, however, are delightful and the best parts of this quick read and first in a promised mystery series.

Readers who can get past the tonal quibbles will appreciate seeing how this class geek discovers that some of his brainy quirks make him a fine budding sleuth. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4597-3625-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dundurn

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Whether it’s because she would rather write stories alone than hang out with her gossiping classmates or because she lives in the Visconti House, a crumbling Italianate villa (which, everyone assumes, must be haunted), Year 8 Aussie Laura Horton always feels like an outsider. When Leon Murphy, a loner in his own right, moves in with his odd grandmother, Laura notices that they have more in common than she originally thought, including wanting to solve the mystery behind Mr. Visconti, his once-ornate house and the woman he loved. Debut author Edgar’s quiet, old-fashioned storytelling, in which the children can sound older than their years, celebrates curiosity, hidden treasures and impromptu gatherings with spirited and creative family members. In the process of ferreting out the secrets of Mr. Visconti and his formerly splendid estate (with written letters, interviews and intuition rather than the Internet), Laura also discovers friendship, romance and accepting the differences in herself and others. Fans of Blue Balliett and Elise Broach’s Shakespeare’s Secret (2005) will enjoy another puzzle to solve. (author’s note) (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5019-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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From the Redwall series

Familiar, perhaps formulaic, but a nonetheless rousing read from the late Jacques. (Animal fantasy. 9-12)

Animal warriors band together against innovative corsairs in this 22nd novel set in the richly detailed world of Redwall.

Scarred and psychotic Razzid Wearat and his mutinous crew wreak havoc along the coast, but when they head inland and overland on the Greenshroud—having equipped the ship with wheels—the Long Patrol hares, the ruthless Rogue Crew otters and the Guosim shrews must race to save Redwall Abbey. Grim warriors outnumber peaceful Abbey beasts, and there is far more fighting than feasting. The many battle scenes and deaths—of disposable pirates and high-spirited heroes—are graphic but not gratuitous, and the action sequences are carefully choreographed. In contrast to earlier books, the villain faces an ensemble rather than a strong protagonist, which might account for the narrative’s rapid scene changes. Despite their species-typical behavior, the characters are distinctive; the squabbling shrew Queen Dukwina and her lizard husband Empraking Dibby, well-shod Dandy Clogs and the gluttonous Wiltuds are particularly memorable. Though the plot, characters and setting resembles those of the previous 21 books, the multi-stranded plot demands attentive reading. The mouthwatering descriptions of food, the various dialects and the detailed settings also make for an immersive experience.

Familiar, perhaps formulaic, but a nonetheless rousing read from the late Jacques. (Animal fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25416-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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