Constellation Clues: The Cipher of the Seven Stars

River Grove Bks. (Constellation Clues: Bk. 1). Feb. 2024. 286p. pap. $16.95. ISBN 9781632997838.
Gr 5 Up–A low-stakes mystery novel about the value of accessibility. Protagonist Quinn Knight is a white, middle class, 12-year-old aspiring astrophotographer who has moved to Central Texas. Being the new girl is hard enough, but she must also navigate life as “migraine girl.” Her sometimes debilitating migraines cause her to feel isolated from her peers. Luckily, she builds friendships with other students at school, many of whom also live with invisible disabilities such as food allergies, color blindness, and sound sensitivity. These friendships are tested, however, when Quinn’s sister begins receiving threatening anonymous notes. Quinn and her friends use STEM concepts to interpret clues and identify the antagonist. Solving the mystery alongside the characters is difficult because interpreting many of the clues requires Quinn’s explanations of obscure scientific concepts. Furthermore, while the mystery moves the plot along at a consistent pace, solving it does not seem urgent, requiring readers to be equally invested in learning more about Quinn’s life and her family dynamics as they are in the mystery. When the villain is revealed, her motivation is that of a typical “mean girl,” which lacks complexity. Still, the representation for tweens with disabilities and the message of inclusion are valuable, and Quinn is an engaging protagonist.
VERDICT Recommended for libraries where Claire Swinarski’s What Happened to Rachel Riley and Tae Keller’s Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone are popular, or for those looking for disability representation.

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