Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Howard Wallace, P.I

Howard Wallace, P.I

Spring 2017 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Casey Lyall
ISBN: 9781454919490
Hardcover Price: $14.95

Howard Wallace's career as a middle-school private investigator might not look very impressive to the casual observer, but at least Howard knows how to work with what he's got (Rule 1 of Private Investigation). He may not have a trench coat, but his brown bathrobe does the trick; his office might be a discarded school desk propped up by pickle buckets, but it's a place to keep files; and his cases might not pay too well, but he knows how to bribe his informants with doughnuts and favors. If he feels a bit lonely and isolated—and abandoned by his former best friend, who's crossed over to the popular crowd—at least he has his work. But two things are about to disrupt Howard's equilibrium. The first is that he is asked to handle a high-profile blackmail case involving the theft of student council checks. The second is that the new girl, Ivy Mason, insists upon joining his investigative operation as a partner. Howard is pretty sure he could handle the case on his own, but he's not really ready to trust another of his peers. Nor is he prepared to find Ivy as committed to private investigation as he is.

The first few pages of this sweet, entertaining middle-grade novel channels Dashiell Hammett fairly heavily, introducing young readers to some of the classic tropes of noir mysteries. (This is either a plus or a minus, depending upon your opinion of Sam Spade.) After that, Howard's story takes off as an engaging detective buddy adventure that deftly comments upon the nasty underbelly of middle school social politics, complete with bullying, ambitious social climbing, and jealous rage. Fortunately, Howard and Ivy as a team can navigate tricky social dangers with wit, creativity, and commitment to their chosen geek niche. Many children will be able to recognize Howard's loneliness, and will cheer him on, not only in solving the mystery, but also in finally agreeing to trust in a friend once again.

Naomi Lesley   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

Look for this product at:
Sterling Publishing
212-532-7160 ext 125

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