sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

July 19, 2017

into the stacks 2017: march
posted by soe 1:34 am

March was a slow reading month, with only three books finished, so I thought I’d get the books reviewed before any more time had elapsed:

The Harlem Charade, by Natasha Tarpley

As Jin is trying to figure out an aspect of the Harlem Renaissance to cover for her Harlem-themed class project, a local kid digs up a painting believed to be by an artist of that time period in a community garden and then an old man is attacked in the same vicinity. Teaming up with her philanthropic, but mysterious, classmate Alex and Elvin, who’s been living on the streets for a few days since his grandfather was attacked (and with help from BFF fashionista Rose), Jin feels she must unravel a mystery that seems to be at the heart of her neighborhood, even as her community is threatened by gentrification in the form of a developer who wants to build a Harlem World theme park in the very blocks where Jin’s grandparents’ bodega now sits.

This had the same feel as Chris Grabenstein’s Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Jennifer Chambliss Bertman’s The Book Scavenger, and Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society, as well as older books like The Westing Game and The Egypt Game, but with a historical twist to the urban mystery and considering bigger questions about gentrification, voice, art, and community. If your middle-grade reader enjoys mysteries, I definitely recommend this one.

Pages: 320. Library copy.

The Job, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

After master thief Nicolas Fox is framed for some art thefts, his partner and FBI handler Kate O’Hare must help figure out who’s behind them, which leads to the need to take down the world’s biggest drug kingpin. The only problem? No one knows what he looks like after he had major plastic surgery. But Nick knows his favorite brand of rare chocolates, so it’s just a matter of following the trail back to a mystery man and his murderous henchwoman. Oh, and then taking them down, which involves getting the gang of Kate’s retired black-ops dad, actor Boyd, and driver Willie (among others) back together to procure a boat and mock up a sunken treasure. Ridiculous? Certainly! A fun romp? Most definitely!

Pages: 289. Library audiobook copy, borrowed via Overdrive.

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, by Cathy Camper, with artwork by Raúl Gonzalez III

Lupe Impala (a wolf), Elirio Malaria (a mosquito), and El Chavo Octopus (obviously) must leave their garage in search of their cat, Genie, being held in the center of the earth by the Aztec god Mictlantecuhtli himself. There’s a tricked out ride, a luchador match, a whole lot of animated skeletons, and a run-in with La Llorona, a Latinx ghost mother, who mistakes El Chavo for one of her drowned children. This Cybils-winning graphic novel for middle-graders sprinkles Spanish generously throughout, as well as providing information on folklore, and a little bit of geology for good measure. I could see it being an excellent fit with upper elementary and middle school reluctant readers, the sort of kids at whom the Wimpy Kid books are aimed at. It offers a lot of action and humor, but has some substance to back it up.

Pages: 128. Library copy.

Book stats:
3 books
737 pages
2 print, 1 audiobook
3 library copies, 1 owned
All fiction
Diverse main character(s): 2
Audience: 1 adult, 2 MG

Author stats:
3 women, 1 man (+1 male artist)
Own voices: 2 (including the artist of the graphic novel)
Country of residence: All American

Category: books. There is/are 2 Comments.

Great suggestions! Thank you!

Comment by AsKatKnits 07.19.17 @ 6:28 am

@Kat: You’re welcome!

Comment by soe 07.21.17 @ 12:05 am