An enjoyable twisty mystery and coming-of-age story.

NOBODY KILLS UNCLE BUSTER AND GETS AWAY WITH IT

A 12-year-old investigates suspicious circumstances surrounding a death in this middle-grade novel.

Sixth grader Sam Parsons, 12, isn’t enthused about accompanying his mother to the funeral of his great-uncle Buster. But Sam’s mom, Eva, insists, so they drive from Jacksonville, Florida, to Ashe County, North Carolina. Right away, things don’t seem right at Uncle Buster’s. He’s said to have died of a heart attack, but there are wounds on his hands, and no autopsy was performed. A fishy will leaves everything to his sisters, and they plan to sell his land for a tasteless tourist development; his books and papers have disappeared. Sam is “convinced that somebody murdered Uncle Buster. And I’m not about to let them get away with it.” Back in Jacksonville, Sam mulls over the case; meanwhile, his ambition to befriend Joey Sabatini (Joey’s father works for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sam’s favorite team) brings him into conflict with his best friend, Oscar Ruiz, and gets him in trouble at school. When Eva’s doubts grow, the family makes a return trip to North Carolina, where suspicions lead to arsenic poisoning. The clues are all there, but what do they add up to? In her second children’s book, Koehler offers a clever mystery with an appealing narrator. Sam is intelligent and observant, earning him praise by a local sheriff as “a fine detective.” Koehler does a great job of keeping him, as well as the reader, guessing through multiple convincing red herrings. In this entertaining mystery, Sam grows as a person. His desire to join Joey’s cool lacrosse crowd challenges him to reflect on friendship, loyalty, and empathy while a school project awakens a new interest in nature conservation.

An enjoyable twisty mystery and coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-947536-07-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Turtle Cove Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

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A handy and helpful guide for any aspiring web user.

HOW TO BE A BLOGGER AND VLOGGER IN 10 EASY LESSONS

LEARN HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN BLOG, VLOG, OR PODCAST AND GET IT OUT IN THE BLOGOSPHERE!

From the Super Skills series

Some popular forms of online self-expression get the how-to treatment.

This brisk read provides 10 lessons for those interested in bringing their voices to the internet, covering blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and everything that goes with them. The book expands upon these lessons in each chapter. For example, the “Record Your Podcast” chapter not only covers basic podcasting formats, but highlights the anatomy of a podcast, how long shows should be, theme-music development, and more. The instruction is nicely digestible for the target audience of enterprising preteens. (Their grandparents might also pick up wisdom here.) The book also features a section dedicated to internet safety, one all kids should read regardless of their online ambitions. The graphics and charts are serviceable, featuring racially diverse children and dutifully breaking up the chunks of text in a format that’s easy on the eyes. A chapter focused on developing audience is especially helpful to those looking to get their voices heard. But above all, the book positions online expression as equal to any other form of artistic expression: maintaining a web series is just as valid as photography or painting in the eyes of the book’s audience, and the author treats the subject as such without trying to talk down to readers or exaggerate. The lessons are taught in the best kind of way: the way that will get kids to listen.

A handy and helpful guide for any aspiring web user. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-105-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Still, there is a bedrock of toponymic glory here, certainly enough to make some readers fall in love with geography.

FROM PIE TOWN TO YUM YUM

WEIRD AND WACKY PLACE NAMES ACROSS THE UNITED STATES

You don’t have to be a geographer (or a toponymist, to get really specific) to take pleasure in odd place names, and there are far too few gazetteers out there for a new one to come amiss.

Herman’s contribution, then, is welcome, despite its weaknesses. First the strengths: Herman proceeds alphabetically by state, focusing on one curious place name and providing an explanation of its origin (or multiple possible explanations). Another dozen or so humorous place names are noted (with a few given very brief expository treatment), and a number of unusual state facts are delivered. Well and good, but this material, which can easily stand on its own, is bedeviled by a near-desperate striving for laughs. Not content to let the strange place names pull their comic weight, Herman douses them with corniness and puns and running jokes and enough exclamation marks to curl a Monkey’s Eyebrow (that’s in Kentucky). Another weakness is the artwork. Maps are a hotbed for artistic expression, but—except for the cover, which allows for color—Goldman’s maps feel anemic (the place names under discussion are not located on her state maps), scratchy and overly whimsical, with accompanying line drawings that are arbitrary or in anxiously eccentric pursuit of yet more mirth.

Still, there is a bedrock of toponymic glory here, certainly enough to make some readers fall in love with geography. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-935279-79-2

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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