Possibly littered with Easter eggs from the game but not worth reading except by superfans of the game…if such exist.

MISSING PIECES

From the Hello Neighbor series , Vol. 1

Raven Brooks is certainly an odd town, but Nick’s neighbors might be a bit more dangerous than odd.

Twelve-year-old Nick Roth has moved a lot with his newspaper-editor father and his college-professor mother. He’s never anywhere long enough to call it home or make a real friend. He’s happy when Aaron Peterson from across the street starts a dialogue holding up notes on paper to his bedroom window…and Aaron is even better at picking locks than Nick! (Because of course picking locks is a common hobby among preteens.) But Aaron’s family is strange, and his father alternates between charm and menace. The boys explore an abandoned factory with a hallway full of locked doors and a defunct amusement park tied to the town’s recent past. The longer Nick’s in town, the more he discovers that the recent past is not a happy one…and Aaron’s family appears to be tied to the tragedy that has marked Ravens Brook. Released as a “prequel” to the critically panned stealth-horror video game “Hello Neighbor,” West’s flimsy and uninteresting mystery leaves much to be desired. Nick’s family dynamic is nothing unique, but it is within a stone’s throw of reality—unlike most of the rest of the setup. Two-color illustrations by Heitz offer few clues to the contrived mystery but depict both Nick’s and Aaron’s families as white.

Possibly littered with Easter eggs from the game but not worth reading except by superfans of the game…if such exist. (Adventure. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-28007-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.

A GIRL, A RACCOON, AND THE MIDNIGHT MOON

This is the way Pearl’s world ends: not with a bang but with a scream.

Pearl Moran was born in the Lancaster Avenue branch library and considers it more her home than the apartment she shares with her mother, the circulation librarian. When the head of the library’s beloved statue of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is found to be missing, Pearl’s scream brings the entire neighborhood running. Thus ensues an enchanting plunge into the underbelly of a failing library and a city brimful of secrets. With the help of friends old, uncertainly developing, and new, Pearl must spin story after compelling story in hopes of saving what she loves most. Indeed, that love—of libraries, of books, and most of all of stories—suffuses the entire narrative. Literary references are peppered throughout (clarified with somewhat superfluous footnotes) in addition to a variety of tangential sidebars (the identity of whose writer becomes delightfully clear later on). Pearl is an odd but genuine narrator, possessed of a complex and emotional inner voice warring with a stridently stubborn outer one. An array of endearing supporting characters, coupled with a plot both grounded in stressful reality and uplifted by urban fantasy, lend the story its charm. Both the neighborhood and the library staff are robustly diverse. Pearl herself is biracial; her “long-gone father” was black and her mother is white. Bagley’s spot illustrations both reinforce this and add gentle humor.

The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.   (reading list) (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6952-1

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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