The critters of the Midnight Academy must find a way to save McKenna Elementary School from destruction.
The old building is in desperate need of repair, and funds are not available to take on the monumental task. The Midnight Academy, made up of a variety of unusual, intelligent, and eccentric “inside” animals, is a secret society that has both an immensely detailed collective memory and a deep love of the children and staff, past and present. Malcolm, the fifth grade’s lovable pet rat, who can read and is able to communicate with the humans, takes the lead as the Academy works to find a solution that will save the school. Continuing the format of Malcolm at Midnight (2012), the narration again is in the guise of an anonymous report, complete with delightful asides and footnotes, sent to fifth-grade teacher Mr. Binney. Beck takes readers through a labyrinth of secret codes, hidden clues, clandestine meetings with outside animals, promises made and broken, hopeful leads, and crushing disappointments. A time capsule, a roof collapse, and the return of a former enemy add to the twists and turns of a fast-paced roller coaster of a plot. Malcolm’s ponderings on the nature of revenge, compassion, loss, and friendship are seamlessly woven into the plot. Lies’ gray-toned, textured pencil-and-graphite illustrations add dimension and personality to the creatures.
Welcome back, Malcolm. (Animal fantasy. 9-12)