cover image January Joker

January Joker

Ron Roy, illus. by John Steven Gurney. Random, $4.99 paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-375-85661-7

This chapter book for budding readers launches Calendar Mysteries, a spinoff of Roy's A to Z Mysteries, starring the seven-year-old siblings of that series' protagonists. During a sleepover, twins Bradley and Brian and their friends Nate and Lucy awaken in the middle of the night to find a strange yellow light in the backyard, illuminating two aliens and a circle in the snow that they presume is the imprint of a spaceship. The next morning, the kids discover three-toed footprints on the ground and realize that their older siblings, who are supposed to be babysitting them, are missing. A phone call from the twins' brother, who says he's on a spaceship, confirms their suspicion that he and his friends have been abducted. And it seems as though some aliens have remained behind-in the attic. It won't require any serious sleuthing for readers to detect what's going on, yet believable banter, humorous moments and chipper illustrations add freshness to the mild mystery. Ages 6-9. (Dec.)