Mystery lovers will be perplexed, but fans of the series will line up for the next book, and their grandparents will hope it...

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THE BIG FLUSH

From the Chicagoland Detective Agency series , Vol. 4

This mystery should come with sheet music and a dance chart.

A ghost is haunting the girls’ bathroom at Pine Lake Academy, but that isn’t the interesting part of the story. The interesting thing is that she’s singing “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” Anyone who drinks the water ends up possessed, and even a manly young detective like Raf Hernandez finds himself saying, “How I love the Turkey Trot! But Auntie says the Turkey Trot and the Grizzly Bear are vulgar and will corrupt today’s youth.” Some authors might stop at that level of quirkiness, but Robbins gets wilder and more inventive as the story goes on—even in a book with a talking dog in the first chapter. In Chapter 4, to solve the mystery, the dog allows himself to be possessed by not one, but two ghosts, who can’t stop arguing. Haunted plumbing doesn’t scare him. “Us dogs always drink from toilet bowls,” he says. Not every page contains a surprise. The conclusion is oddly mundane; it has to do with the disposition of a household object. But then, the mystery is beside the point. Who needs detective work when an entire ghostly orchestra shows up for the final chapter?

Mystery lovers will be perplexed, but fans of the series will line up for the next book, and their grandparents will hope it comes with a vinyl record. (Graphic mystery. 9-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8225-9161-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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