The Real McCoys

illus. by Robbi Behr. 336p. Imprint. Nov. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250098528.
RedReviewStarGr 3–5—A lot can happen in one day when you're the world's greatest fourth grade detective. Moxie McCoy aims to find both her school's stolen mascot and a new best friend while surviving multiple trips to the principal's office. Moxie's biggest surprise of the day? A new appreciation of her "boring as a butter knife" younger brother Milton, who reveals detective skills of his own. Moxie knows the meaning of her name, and embraces it as a mantra. With fictional girl detective Annabelle Adams as her muse, Moxie crackles with enthusiasm and ideas that leave her hair literally standing on end. Heavily illustrated, the book's design makes it a standout: playful interactions between text and black monochromatic cartoon art create a visual treat. Moxie bumps her head in frustration against a line of text; on another page, she's buried under her principal's angry word bubble. Drenched in slapstick humor, hyperbole, and wit, Behr's artwork makes every page unique and keeps a longer book within reach of younger readers. Adding depth to the fun is Moxie's glossary of vocabulary ("happenstance") and phrases ("go for the jugular") along with wrap-up questions encouraging personal reflection and understanding of the book's characters.
VERDICT First in a series, readers will breeze through this ingenious combination of text and art, eager for Moxie and Milton's next case. A first purchase for all middle grade collections.

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