Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd.


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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Swings well enough to get struggling readers to first base—and perhaps beyond.


A young child with reading difficulties discovers that he’s not alone…in more ways than one.

Newsom, current governor of California, calls on his own childhood experiences with dyslexia in describing how Ben, a White child, is good at baseball but struggles to link letters with sounds to make words. None of the other three children at Ben’s table seem to be having such trouble. Emma, a Black girl who’s also on Ben’s baseball team, is even poring over big chapter books already. At last Ben’s embarrassment culminates in a meltdown, which sparks a tearful admission from Emma that she’s just pretending to read and a rueful one from their reading teacher, an Asian woman named Ms. Kim, that, well, shehas never been able to hit a baseball. The children offer to coach her and then, having watched her swing again and again until she at last swats a dunker, come to understand that never giving up is the key to success. Thompson’s spacious and simple cartoon illustrations depict Ben’s other two tablemates with beige skin, and one of them wears a hijab. A lengthy personal note from the lead author offers further encouragement (for all that it’s addressed to readers more proficient than the likely audience), and a short list of print and web resources provides leads to more findings and strategies. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Swings well enough to get struggling readers to first base—and perhaps beyond. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20411-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A funny, fast-paced mystery with many Singapore-specific details that provide cultural flavor.


From the Sherlock Sam series , Vol. 1

A new kid-detective series offers a cross-cultural twist.

Samuel Tan Cher Lock is a Chinese boy growing up in Singapore. He prefers to go by Sherlock Sam after his hero, Sherlock Holmes. While ever hungry narrator Sam will be familiar to many food-crazy Singaporeans, American readers may get frustrated at the numerous unfamiliar terms such as kaya toast and Khong Guan biscuits (“biscuits” actually refers to cookies); the lengthy and informative glossary will help. Hopefully Sam's knack for digging up details and smart deductions will keep readers flipping the pages. Regardless, this food-related mystery is a perfect introduction to the series. Auntie Kim Lian has promised to cook Sam’s favorite dish, ayam buah keluak (chicken cooked in black nut sauce), but her family cookbook is missing and she can’t make it without the recipe! Sam is determined to find the cookbook and have ayam buah keluak for dinner. Together with his crew—wisecracking robot Watson, big sister Wendy, and classmate Jimmy—Sam retraces Auntie Kim Lian’s steps all over the Katong neighborhood. After a day of sleuthing, everyone is ready to give up. However, Sherlock Sam has a stroke of genius and solves the mystery—at a restaurant no less! In addition to a smattering of black-and-white line drawings that liven up the story, the glossary in the back explains both the Singapore slang and foods mentioned in the book. The sequel, Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning, publishes simultaneously.

A funny, fast-paced mystery with many Singapore-specific details that provide cultural flavor. (list of characters) (Mystery. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4494-7789-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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