Gr 4–6—Chicago in the 1920s provides the setting for this fast-paced mystery. Isabel Feeney is the spunky protagonist who makes friends, young and old, while hot on the trail of a killer. Isabel sells copies of the Chicago Tribune on the city streets to supplement her single mother's salary. When Isabel hears a gun fire, she runs toward the sound to an alley where she sees Miss Giddings, the kind and pretty young lady who regularly buys newspapers from her, kneeling over a dead man. Isabel is quickly involved in the investigation and befriends Maude Collier, a famous Tribune reporter whom she admires for her reporting excellence. Isabel has always aspired to be a female crime reporter, just like Maude, and now is her chance to investigate a real crime with her writing hero. Fantaskey keeps the chapters short and snappy, with each one ending on a mini-cliff-hanger, enticing kids to read on. There are guns and gangsters, future movie stars, glamour, sibling rivalries, bullet proof cars, polio, several possible suspects, and a host of eclectic personalities. Isabel is fearless but expresses her vulnerability in her desire to have friends. The author's historical note explains the inspiration for the novel: five real-life female reporters who wrote for the Chicago Tribune in the 1920s. VERDICT A not-to-be-missed novel for middle graders looking for a satisfying mystery with a daring female heroine.—Helen Foster James, University of California at San Diego Copyright 2015 Reed Business Information.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Aston and Long follow A Butterfly Is Patient and other collaborations with a poetic examination of the vast insect order of beetles. As in the previous books, brief phrases (“A beetle is kaleidoscopic,” “A beetle is colossal”) introduce various characteristics, explored in crisp, accessible text that can be both general and species-specific (“ flash their signals to attract a mate, defend their territory, and warn away predators”). Long’s watercolors capture the vibrant details of the rainbow stag beetle, dead-nettle leaf beetle, and other striking specimens in a sparkling homage to a diverse category of insect. Ages 5–8. Author’s agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Apr.)
When budding inventor John Coggin learns that his last living relative, Great-Aunt Beauregard, plans to make him and his six-year-old sister permanent employees of the family’s coffin business, he grabs his sister and runs away. After joining up with a circus performer named Boz, the trio must flee the troupe to avoid being found by Great-Aunt Beauregard, who is hot on their trail. Author “Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both … A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish” (KIRK).