A popular, award-winning author takes a new tack with a comical western adventure la Sid Fleischman. Artemis, 15, leaves his mother and native New York at the request of an aunt in Arizona, who hopes Artemis can find the treasure his uncle concealed before he was shot by the evil Catfish Grimes and also avenge Uncle Ugly's death. There's a treasure map, and both Catfish and Aunt Mary have copies; but since no one knows which of the places that Uncle Ugly frequented includes the site, Artemis (with Frolic, a sidekick who claims to be part Cherokee) and Catfish (with the deceptively attractive Lucy Featherdip) try one after another—in Mexico, California, Seattle, and Alaska—with fairly violent slapstick encounters in each, though neither ever quite follows through on chances to do the other in. Back in Tombstone, Artemis agrees to a shoot-out and apparently kills Catfish (he mils it "self-defense"); still, Catfish's (and Myers's) last trick leaves room for a sequel. Artemis narrates the picaresque shenanigans in a pious, well-schooled voice, a parody of 19th-century formality that's amusingly at odds with his freewheeling behavior. The lighthearted tale is also enriched by the growth of the boys' at first casual friendship ("We had become a team and True Friends to boot") and by offhand comments about being black in the mostly white world of the early We, at. An entertaining yarn that could well introduce new readers to historical fiction. (Fiction. 10- 14)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-020844-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1992

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From the Grandma Dowdel series , Vol. 2

Set in 1937 during the so-called “Roosevelt recession,” tight times compel Mary Alice, a Chicago girl, to move in with her grandmother, who lives in a tiny Illinois town so behind the times that it doesn’t “even have a picture show.”

This winning sequel takes place several years after A Long Way From Chicago (1998) leaves off, once again introducing the reader to Mary Alice, now 15, and her Grandma Dowdel, an indomitable, idiosyncratic woman who despite her hard-as-nails exterior is able to see her granddaughter with “eyes in the back of her heart.” Peck’s slice-of-life novel doesn’t have much in the way of a sustained plot; it could almost be a series of short stories strung together, but the narrative never flags, and the book, populated with distinctive, soulful characters who run the gamut from crazy to conventional, holds the reader’s interest throughout. And the vignettes, some involving a persnickety Grandma acting nasty while accomplishing a kindness, others in which she deflates an overblown ego or deals with a petty rivalry, are original and wildly funny. The arena may be a small hick town, but the battle for domination over that tiny turf is fierce, and Grandma Dowdel is a canny player for whom losing isn’t an option. The first-person narration is infused with rich, colorful language—“She was skinnier than a toothpick with termites”—and Mary Alice’s shrewd, prickly observations: “Anybody who thinks small towns are friendlier than big cities lives in a big city.”

Year-round fun. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 978-0-8037-2518-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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From the Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries series

In this series debut, Maggie Sinclair tracks down a dognapper and solves a mystery about the noises in the walls of her Brooklyn brownstone apartment building. The 12-year-old heroine, who shares a middle name—Brooklyn—with her twin brother, Finn, is juggling two dogwalking jobs she’s keeping secret from her parents, and somehow she attracts the ire of the dogs’ former walker. Maggie tells her story in the first person—she’s self-possessed and likable, even when her clueless brother invites her ex–best friend, now something of an enemy, to their shared 12th birthday party. Maggie’s attention to details helps her to figure out why dogs seem to be disappearing and why there seem to be mice in the walls of her building, though astute readers will pick up on the solution to at least one mystery before Maggie solves it. There’s a brief nod to Nancy Drew, but the real tensions in this contemporary preteen story are more about friendship and boy crushes than skullduggery. Still, the setting is appealing, and Maggie is a smart and competent heroine whose personal life is just as interesting as—if not more than—her detective work. (Mystery. 10-13)



Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 967-1-59990-525-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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