A quick read about a girl sleuth whose fiery determination will leave readers wanting Book 2.

THE CASE OF THE TIME-CAPSULE BANDIT

From the Randi Rhodes Ninja Detective series , Vol. 1

Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan meet Nancy Drew. 

In this first novel by Oscar-winning actress Spencer, Randi Rhodes thrives on solving the mysteries that unfold in her busy Brooklyn neighborhood. Her father, Herb Rhodes, author of the best-selling Glenn Street detective novels, spent Randi’s childhood on book tours but stopped writing after his wife’s recent death from cancer. Ready for a change, Herb moves the family to the small town of Deer Creek, Tenn., where they always spend summer vacations. Shortly after their arrival, in the midst of the Founders’ Day Festival, someone steals the Deer Creek time capsule, which might hold the town’s treasure. Randi, a black belt in karate, teams up with hearing-impaired, asthmatic Dario “D.C.” Cruz and lithe African-American Pudge Taylor from Boston to crack the case of the missing time capsule. Replete with crooked politicians, a spooky house and a ghost, a stormy night, caves with bandits and bats, and several well-placed martial arts kicks, this novel will keep young readers guessing. Despite the difficulty of keeping track of the minor characters, readers will appreciate Randi’s determination to make a difference. A series of appendices includes ninja tips and recipes.

A quick read about a girl sleuth whose fiery determination will leave readers wanting Book 2. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7681-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark.

NARWHAL I'M AROUND

From the Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter series , Vol. 2

An animal ghost seeks closure after enduring aquatic atrocities.

In this sequel to The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter (2020), sixth grader Rex is determined to once again use his ability to communicate with dead animals for the greater good. A ghost narwhal’s visit gives Rex his next opportunity in the form of the clue “bad water.” Rex enlists Darvish—his Pakistani American human best friend—and Drumstick—his “faithful (dead) chicken”—to help crack the case. But the mystery is only one of Rex’s many roadblocks. For starters, Sami Mulpepper hugged him at a dance, and now she’s his “accidental girlfriend.” Even worse, Darvish develops one of what Rex calls “Game Preoccupation Disorders” over role-playing game Monsters & Mayhem that may well threaten the pair’s friendship. Will Rex become “a Sherlock without a Watson,” or can the two make amends in time to solve the mystery? This second outing effectively carries the “ghost-mist” torch from its predecessor without feeling too much like a formulaic carbon copy. Spouting terms like plausible deniability and in flagrante delicto, Rex makes for a hilariously bombastic (if unlikable) first-person narrator. The over-the-top style is contagious, and black-and-white illustrations throughout add cartoony punchlines to various scenes. Unfortunately, scenes in which humor comes at the expense of those with less status are downright cringeworthy, as when Rex, who reads as White, riffs on the impossibility of his ever pronouncing Darvish’s surname or he plays dumb by staring into space and drooling.

Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark. (Paranormal mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5523-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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