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Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz

Published by Dial Books

Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer (Shirley & Jamila): Goerz ...
Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer (Shirley & Jamila): Goerz ...

Summary:  Jamila wants to spend the summer playing basketball, but her mother plans to sign her up for science camp.  A chance encounter with a slightly odd girl named Shirley at a yard sale changes the course of her vacation.  Shirley and her mother come to visit the next day, and the moms agree to let them spend their days together on the basketball court.  Shirley seems to spend her days reading, but she gradually reveals her amazing powers of observation to Jamila.  One day an 8-year-old boy named Oliver comes to the court to ask Shirley for help.  It turns out she has a reputation as the neighborhood detective, and his gecko has been stolen from the local pool.  Shirley gets to work, with Jamila tagging along.  Solving the case almost ends their budding friendship, but in the end, each one sees how she needs the other.  Shirley pulls a grand reveal to all involved in the case, as she unmasks the culprit, but also manages to plant seeds of friendships with the kids involved in the case.  224 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  A clever graphic mystery with a bit of a nod to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Shirley has Sherlock’s astute powers of observation and lack of social skills, while Jamila serves as a Watson-like narrator and assistant.  The characters are well-developed, and most readers will have to wait for Shirley’s grand reveal to figure out who stole the gecko.  I also liked that both characters have just turned 10, as most middle grade novels seem to feature slightly older characters.  This seems like a perfect series opener, so we can keep our fingers crossed there will be more mysterious fun to come.

Cons:  I was hoping all the kids would become friends at the end, but Jamila and Shirley seemed like they were moving on.

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