Delightfully smart and deliciously funny—don’t miss it.

THE DUNDERHEADS BEHIND BARS

From the Dunderheads series , Vol. 2

The Dunderheads are back in another amusing caper that’s sure to please fans of their earlier exploits (The Dunderheads, 2009).

Once again, Einstein narrates with tongue-in-cheek, deadpan humor. Along with his friends, he expects the last day of school to mean that they are rid of their nemesis/teacher, the evil Miss Breakbone. Sadly, they are wrong. Children and teacher alike try out for roles as extras in a film and find themselves together again. Worse, Miss Breakbone fingers Spider as a thief when a cat burglar strikes. Einstein, of course, comes up with the perfect plan to capture the real thief, capitalizing as before on his friends’ varied interests and abilities. Unfortunately, his plan falls through, and all of the kids wind up in the poky. How they succeed in solving the crimes and turning the tables on their arch enemy, Miss Breakbone, strains credibility but entertains all the same. It's not as though credibility is the point, after all. At least half the fun comes from Roberts’ clever illustrations, created in watercolor, pen and ink. As before, each Dunderhead’s appearance reveals his or her individuality; new characters are equally clearly limned. Some sly references might go over the heads of the intended audience (don’t miss Liza as Sally Bowles in the line-up of aspiring extras), but readers of all ages will enjoy poring over the pages to find the hidden humor.

Delightfully smart and deliciously funny—don’t miss it. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4543-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the...

ADA LACE, ON THE CASE

From the Ada Lace series , Vol. 1

Using science and technology, third-grader Ada Lace kicks off her new series by solving a mystery even with her leg in a cast.

Temporarily housebound after a badly executed bungee jump, Ada uses binoculars to document the ecosystem of her new neighborhood in San Francisco. She records her observations in a field journal, a project that intrigues new friend Nina, who lives nearby. When they see that Ms. Reed’s dog, Marguerite, is missing, they leap to the conclusion that it has been stolen. Nina does the legwork and Ada provides the technology for their search for the dognapper. Story-crafting takes a back seat to scene-setting in this series kickoff that introduces the major players. As part of the series formula, science topics and gadgetry are integrated into the stories and further explained in a “Behind the Science” afterword. This installment incorporates drones, a wireless camera, gecko gloves, and the Turing test as well as the concept of an ecosystem. There are no ethnic indicators in the text, but the illustrations reveal that Ada, her family, and bratty neighbor Milton are white; Nina appears to be Southeast Asian; and Mr. Peebles, an inventor who lives nearby, is black.

The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the chapter-book world. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8599-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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