Signed by Zelda

Kate Feiffer. S&S/Wiseman, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4424-3331-1
Set in New York City, Feiffer’s (The Problem with Puddles) fantasy-tinged mystery follows two 11-year-olds—Indian-American Lucy, a recent transplant from Savannah, Ga., who “planned on becoming the world’s leading expert on handwriting,” and Nicky, Lucy’s upstairs neighbor, a boy who has no trouble getting into trouble. Along with a talking pigeon, the pair tries to figure out what happened to Nicky’s grandmother, Zelda, who disappears on April Fool’s Day. Initially, Lucy and Nicky spar with each other, but the friendly presence of Pigeon and a cryptic note left behind by Grandma Zelda bring the children together. Handwriting samples, letters, and clues help build tension, and Lucy’s rules about handwriting and character offer humor and insight (“Confused people have confused writing”). With the exception of Grandma Zelda, adult characters don’t get much attention; Nicky’s father’s villainy is hard to take seriously, and the book’s parents and teachers largely come across as clueless. Concluding sections include a recipe for Grandma Zelda’s Zeldaberry pie and additional information about handwriting, which should pique the interest of budding graphologists like Lucy. Ages 8–12. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/16/2012
Release date: 04/24/2012
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