Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins/. Jan. 2020. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062798862.
Gr 3-7–Keenan is a world traveler thanks to his mother, who teaches in international schools. He’s forced to recover from tuberculosis on sleepy Centerlight Island. Half of this odd town is in Canada, and the other half is in the United States. At first, his only friend is a Canadian girl named Zarabeth, or ZeeBee, who is convinced that Prohibition-era gangsters buried treasure somewhere on the island. ZeeBee also talks constantly about her deceased dog, Barney, a humongous mutt that terrorized the town and all its residents but died under mysterious circumstances that ZeeBee is determined to uncover. ZeeBee loved Barney despite all his flaws and sees her new dog, calm and obedient Barney Two, as a poor substitute. When Keenan starts school (on the American side), he makes multiple friends, but doesn’t connect with any of them like he does with ZeeBee. As Keenan and ZeeBee investigate the many residents of Centerlight who had reason to want Barney dead, they discover a deep kinship in each other that neither has experienced before. Chapters mostly alternate between Keenan’s and ZeeBee’s perspectives. Chapters narrated by the other residents of Centerlight move the narrative along, but the inclusion of adult-narrated chapters feels odd. Overall, however, the fast-moving, action-packed plot makes this a great choice for reluctant readers.
VERDICT While not as funny as many of Korman’s other titles, this is nevertheless a diverting read full of suspense and historical intrigue.

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