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

READ REVIEW

THE BEST MISTAKE MYSTERY

From the Great Mistake Mysteries series , Vol. 1

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. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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THE VISCONTI HOUSE

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. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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In the wake of a destructive dustup with ghosts in the surprisingly rich rare-book room of their suburban public library,...

GHOSTS OF ROCKVILLE

SEARCH FOR THE DOMINION GLASS

From the Ghosts of Rockville series , Vol. 1

Young ghost hunters barely start their search for a magical artifact in this fragmentary series opener.

In the wake of a destructive dustup with ghosts in the surprisingly rich rare-book room of their suburban public library, classmates Jay, Pam, Danni and Brian find themselves in a race with shadowy but plainly evil opponents. Their mutual goal is to track down a crystal that can summon and control the spirits of the dead. First, though, they have to secure a certain Key by puzzling out cryptic rhymes that lead in apparently arbitrary fashion to grave markers, nearby crop circles and a local medium. A climactic spectral attack adds a bit of drama, though it leaves the quartet at the end no closer to the Key—much less the sub-titular glass. Along with page images of stodgy background from an “Encyclopedia of the Paranormal” (evidently a fictional one, not to be confused with the two actual reference sources bearing that title), some illustrations look blank until a small, included (and easily lost) square of lenticular plastic is laid over to reveal hidden messages or pictures.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-934734-48-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Seven Footer Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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