Finally Something Mysterious by Doug Cornett


91QweP61IPL._AC_UY218_Finally Something Mysterious by Doug Cornett. Alfred A. Knopf, 2020. 9781984830036

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Realistic/mystery

What did you like about the book? During the summer before sixth grade, Paul Marconi wishes for something interesting to happen. When a giant pile of rubber duckies appears in a neighbor’s yard over night, Paul and his buddies Shanks and Peephole are delighted to have something to investigate. The three friends call themselves The One and Onlys, and are sure that they are the only ones who can solve the mystery. Various people in the town of Bellwood come under suspicion, including the mostly inept police officer Portnoy. Readers get to know these folks – Mr Babbage, whose yard the duckies appeared in, Mr Pocus, a mean teacher who lives next door to Mr Babbage, Janice, a teen who plays the tuba, and others. Meanwhile, the town is excitedly anticipating the annual Bratwurst Bonanza, where entrants compete for the best original bratwurst concoction. Plenty of comic nods to weiners (Who will be the weiner of the contest?) and clever plot twists will keep kids interested and guessing until the final showdown at the Triple B (Bellwood Bratwurst Bonanza). The story is narrated by Paul, and his voice is wry, with a touch of the comedian. I like the relationships between the friends – they each have quirks, but they care about each other. An interesting part of the setting of this California town is that there are wildfires nearby.  Clever readers may see this as a key to solving the mystery. And, there’s a neat map, always a plus in my book.

Anything you didn’t like about it? There seem to be no characters of color; all families seem white, with male and female parents. There is a thread in the story about a mega-store coming into the small town, but it fizzles out without resolution. I think that part could have been developed more.

To whom would you recommend this book?  For middle grade readers who enjoy gentle mysteries, with no murder or mayhem, and who like wordplay.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and middle school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: June 11, 2020

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