Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd.

THE MISSING BASEBALL

From the Zach and Zoe Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Lupica kicks off a new series starring a pair of 8-year-old twins who solve sports-themed mysteries.

Even the pleasures of competing in various events during his school’s Spirit Week dim a smidge for Zach Walker when the prized autographed baseball he brings to his third-grade class for show and tell vanishes. Happily, his bookish but equally sports-loving sister, Zoe, is on the case, and by the time of the climactic baseball game at week’s end, she has pieced together clues and deductions that lead to the lost treasure—which had not been stolen but batted through an open window by the teacher’s cat and stashed in a storage shed by the custodian. In the co-published sequel, The Half-Court Hero, the equally innocuous conundrum hangs on the identity of the mysterious “guardian angel” who is fixing up a run-down playground basketball court. Along with plenty of suspenseful sports action, the author highlights in both tales the values of fair play, teamwork, and doing the “right thing.” The Walker family presents white, but in both the narrative and Danger’s appropriately bland (if inappropriately static) illustrations, the supporting cast shows some racial and ethnic diversity.

Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-28936-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. .

THE CONTRACT

For his eponymous imprint, the New York Yankees star leads off with a self-referential tale of Little League triumphs.

In the first of a projected 10 episodes based on the same number of “Life Lessons” espoused by the lead author’s Turn 2 Foundation, third-grader Derek turns in an essay announcing that his dream is to play shortstop for the New York Yankees (No. 1 on the Turn 2 list: “Set your goals high”). His parents take him seriously enough not only to present him with a “contract” that promises rewards for behaviors like working hard and avoiding alcohol and drugs, but also to put a flea in the ear of his teacher after she gives him a B-minus on the essay for being unrealistic. Derek then goes on to pull up his math grade. He also proceeds to pull off brilliant plays for his new Little League team despite finding himself stuck at second base while the coach’s son makes multiple bad decisions at shortstop and, worse, publicly puts down other team members. Jeter serves as his own best example of the chosen theme’s theoretical validity, but as he never acknowledges that making the majors (in any sport) requires uncommon physical talent as well as ambition and determination, this values-driven pitch is well out of the strike zone.

Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. . (foundation ad and curriculum guide, not seen) (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2312-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Jeter/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Perhaps the captain’s next outing will find all its elements in better sync.

CAPTAIN COCONUT AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING BANANAS

From the Captain Coconut series , Vol. 1

Part clever Sherlock Holmes, part bumbling Maxwell Smart, the turbaned Capt. Coconut is a new detective on the scene.

He sets out to solve a case involving the three members of an Indian household: Mrs. Y, her sister, and her nephew, Gilli. Mrs. Y bought 14 bananas, but some are missing. She can account for four—they were eaten—but only six can still be found. After using his calculator to perform the simple mathematical task involved, the detective quickly realizes how many are gone, but the determined sleuth must still find the perpetrator. References, visual and verbal, to Bollywood musical interludes and vaudeville slapstick (remember banana peels) spice up the action, but the math is not complex enough for readers who have the sophistication to enjoy the dry wit and the unusual collage panels of this short graphic novel. The foolish detective, with his round belly sticking out of his safari suit and his red knee socks matching his red paisley nose, can’t open his office door or start his scooter, but of course he does finally solve the mystery. Suffice it to say, an unpleasant stomach ailment provides a clue. Creative readers can provide their own tunes for the three original songs, and the digital collages are filled with zany retro details.

Perhaps the captain’s next outing will find all its elements in better sync. (Graphic mystery. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-93-83145-22-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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