SAMMY KEYES AND THE SKELETON MAN

The live-wire young sleuth who debuted in Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief (p. 502) catapults into another headlong caper after scotching a murder attempt on Halloween. Nerving themselves to approach a spooky house while out trick-or-treating, Sammy and her friends find the door open, a fire set on the floor and reclusive old Chauncey LeBard tied to a chair. A robbery, it seems—but what’s missing? Books, as it turns out: a collection of high-spot first editions. Being incurably nosy, Sammy commences to pry with a will, meanwhile countering hateful classmate Heather’s latest sly attempt at character assassination by setting up a devastating public denouement. As readers of the first book know, it’s not as if Sammy’s life isn’t already complicated; she lives illegally with her grandmother in modest seniors-only housing while her mother is pursuing Hollywood dreams, has to fend off a suspicious neighbor, and keep up with her schoolwork in the face of multiple distractions. Artfully throwing in clues, red herrings, and well-timed revelations, Van Draanen keeps her heroine on the hop, surrounding her with typecast age mates but distinctly drawn, individual adults, most of whom were introduced in the previous book. Sammy is as resourceful and tough as ever, and the breathless pace of this adventure will rivet readers from page one. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-679-88850-0

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998

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The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.

A GIRL, A RACCOON, AND THE MIDNIGHT MOON

This is the way Pearl’s world ends: not with a bang but with a scream.

Pearl Moran was born in the Lancaster Avenue branch library and considers it more her home than the apartment she shares with her mother, the circulation librarian. When the head of the library’s beloved statue of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is found to be missing, Pearl’s scream brings the entire neighborhood running. Thus ensues an enchanting plunge into the underbelly of a failing library and a city brimful of secrets. With the help of friends old, uncertainly developing, and new, Pearl must spin story after compelling story in hopes of saving what she loves most. Indeed, that love—of libraries, of books, and most of all of stories—suffuses the entire narrative. Literary references are peppered throughout (clarified with somewhat superfluous footnotes) in addition to a variety of tangential sidebars (the identity of whose writer becomes delightfully clear later on). Pearl is an odd but genuine narrator, possessed of a complex and emotional inner voice warring with a stridently stubborn outer one. An array of endearing supporting characters, coupled with a plot both grounded in stressful reality and uplifted by urban fantasy, lend the story its charm. Both the neighborhood and the library staff are robustly diverse. Pearl herself is biracial; her “long-gone father” was black and her mother is white. Bagley’s spot illustrations both reinforce this and add gentle humor.

The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.   (reading list) (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6952-1

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS

AN ENOLA HOLMES MYSTERY

With gleeful panache, Springer introduces an innocent but capable young sleuth—the younger sister of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, no less—and takes her from wild English countryside to the soupy filth of Victorian London. Having led a free-spirited but cloistered life on the ancestral country estate, 14-year-old Enola Holmes is thrown for a loop by her mother’s sudden disappearance—not to mention the subsequent arrival of her long-absent big brothers, both of whom turn out to be overbearing and dismissive of women. Rather than meekly knuckle under, though, Enola makes careful preparation (she thinks) and slips off to track her wayward parent down. On the way, she falls into the furor surrounding an apparent kidnapping (see title)—and then, barely does she arrive in the big city before some authentically scary ruffians snatch her, too. Naïve but a quick study, and more resourceful than even her renowned siblings, Enola resolutely surmounts each challenge that comes her way. By the end, she has rescued the spoiled young aristocrat, eluded her brothers, gotten a lead on her mother thanks to a series of cleverly coded messages and even set herself up as a “Perditorian”—a finder of lost things and people. A tasty appetizer, with every sign of further courses to come. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24304-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Sleuth/Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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