Author: Lissa Evans
Age Range: 9-14 (from Kirkus)
Interest Range: 8-10 (my judgement)
Plot: 10-year-old Stuart thinks his summer is ruined when his parents announce their plan to move to a new town immediately following the end of the school year. A new town at the beginning of summer means no friends to share it with. But when the Hortens get to Beeton, Stuart discovers an amazing long-lost relative: his uncle was a magician! A hunt for clues ensues as Stuart races the demolition team to uncover his uncle’s long lost workshop. Only through the aid of one of his annoying next-door neighbors can Stuart succeed, but can he trust her? Can he even remember which identical triplet she actually is?
My Review: Stuart’s story is one worth reading. His parents are hilariously dull and unobservant, which allows for Stuart to run off on his daily pursuits without any real hindrance. And with a father who writes crossword puzzles for a living, expect to learn lots of new vocabulary right along with Stuart as he contemplates getting “What?” tattooed on his forehead to save himself some time. I appreciated the fact that Stuart is not perfect and doesn’t always catch the clues the first time around. Often he goes one way when he should have gone another. Evans writes a fast-paced, fun mystery for kids who like a little bit of magic mixed in with their daily routine.
Themes: Moving, Making Friends
Additional info: First in a series (ongoing)
* Stuart Horten is very short for a 10 year old. Unfortunately, his name doesn’t help: S. Horten (make that Shorten). He is sarcastic, smart, and not very trusting of the identical triplets who live next door (April, May, and June Kingsley, also age 10. Way taller than Stuart.).
* April, May, and June Kingsley are nosy girls who run their own local newspaper. Stuart suspects it’s nothing more than an excuse to spy on people and make his own life miserable. Despite their identical looks, these girls are not all carbon copies of each other.