A story that should turn even the most finicky readers into happy campers. (Mystery. 8-12)

READ REVIEW

COOPER AND PACKRAT

MYSTERY ON PINE LAKE

Packed with intrigue and sweet humor, this mystery with a conservation twist will grab young readers.

Twelve-year-old Cooper and his little sister, Molly, live at their family’s business, a campground on Pine Lake in Maine. Cooper loves canoeing, camping and, perhaps most of all, the lake’s loons—and he is determined to protect this year's hatchlings. Living at the campground has a downside, though: It seems that his chores never stop, and his parents are so preoccupied with the business, there's no family time. He’s also supposed to be nice to all the campers—and that includes the camp bully, Roy. But enter ally Packrat, an upbeat kid and new fast friend. Disaster strikes when Cooper and Packrat discover someone has dammed up the lake, causing the water to rise and destroying the loons’ eggs. Who is the culprit? Roy? Or Mr. Bakeman, a perpetually grumpy neighbor who openly professes his hatred of the loons? Hope is restored when Cooper and Packrat learn the loons may lay a second set of eggs, and they quickly hatch a plan to prevent another disaster. Wight has penned a winning cast of characters, dialogue that sparkles and a plot that flies. DiRocco’s detailed and humorous black-and-white illustrations elevate the book’s charm even higher.

A story that should turn even the most finicky readers into happy campers. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-934031-86-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Islandport Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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A lighthearted mystery starring seriously smart kids.

THE AMBROSE DECEPTION

A mysterious scholarship contest launches this middle-grade mystery.

The action begins when three Chicago middle schoolers—Bondi Johnson, a black boy; Wilf Samson, a white boy; and Melissa Burris, a white girl—are selected to compete in the Kaplin/Baron scholarship contest. No one at the three students’ schools has heard of this scholarship, and even stranger, none of these students is known for exemplary academics. In fact, they are better known for scheming, daydreaming, and schmoozing. The scholarship rules appear straightforward: untangle the clues, provide a photo of each, and win $10,000. With these guidelines, a provided cellphone, a personal driver, and a no-strings-attached debit card, each student is ready to tackle the task. Bondi attacks his clues with diligence; Melissa, though suspicious, enjoys the chase; Wilf would rather cross items off his bucket list than solve the riddles. When the hunt for clues draws to an end, Bondi, Melissa, and Wilf discover there is another mystery surrounding this scholarship and the money, leading them to band together to unravel the remaining clues and unearth the truth before the $10,000 slips out of their hands. In the tradition of The Westing Game or Chasing Vermeer, this is a plot-driven brainteaser centered on Chicago landmarks and Chicago history. The twists and turns are well-paced and believable, and transcripts of texts, emails, and letters within the chapters add dimension to the strong cast of secondary characters.

A lighthearted mystery starring seriously smart kids. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-8838-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read.

ALI CROSS

The prolific king of the beach read is back with an intergenerational mystery for the 9-to-12-year-old set.

Ali Cross, the son of Patterson’s most famous creation, African American homicide detective Alex Cross, is “starting to think the worst might have happened” to his mixed-race friend Gabriel “Gabe” Qualls, who disappeared on Dec. 21 and hasn’t been heard from as of Christmas Eve, when the book opens. Ali offers an impromptu prayer for Gabe at the pre-holiday service at his all-black church as well as an impromptu press conference outside of it as journalists and paparazzi confront Alex about his alleged coma-inducing assault of a murder suspect’s father. Then someone robs the Crosses’ home that night along with four other homes; the Crosses’ Christmas gifts are stolen. Ali, obsessed with finding Gabe and feeling that these events will distract his dad and the police from searching for him, starts his own investigation—complete with looking at some contraband footage of Gabe’s unusually loaded backpack obtained by Ali’s stepmother, also a cop—and questioning his school and gaming pals, a diverse group. Writing in Ali’s voice with occasional cutaways to third-person chapters that follow Alex, Patterson sprinkles the narrative with pop-culture references even as he takes readers through the detective process.

Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53041-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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