cover image The Mystery Box

The Mystery Box

Joan Lowery Nixon. Yearling Books, $2.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-440-40458-3

The Nic-Nacs (Nic for Nicole, N for Nelson, A for Amy, C for Carlos) are a band of energetic nine-year-olds who, during summer vacation, decide to write a neighborhood newspaper. With their first issue of The Nic-Nac News , the enterprising crew helps unravel a mystery concerning a box mistakenly delivered to Mrs. Hopkins; another item prompts one of the reporters to produce a live dinosaur descendant for Pet Day in the park. Nixon's action-packed plots also include solid advice on how newspapers are made, along with thoughtful suggestions about how children might participate in community and school activities. The dialogue, which includes such colorful phrases as ``snake spit'' and ``grasshopper guts,'' will have great appeal for this age group, though several passages are repetitious and fall flat. Goffe's expressive illustrations depict appropriately eager, inquisitive characters. Restless vacationers and budding journalists alike will enjoy the first breezy titles of this new series. Ages 8-12. (May)