cover image Kidnap at the Catfish Cafe

Kidnap at the Catfish Cafe

Patricia Reilly Giff. Viking Children's Books, $13.99 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-670-88180-2

Seasoned chapter-book series author Giff gets her latest, The Adventures of Minnie and Max, off to a snappy start with this caper introducing an aspiring detective who has just finished sixth grade. Her refreshingly nontraditional heroine, Minnie, is an orphan who lives in a seaside town with her older brother, Orlando, owner of a restaurant. In a free-flowing, appealingly impulsive voice, the girl explains how she acquires Max, her feline sidekick, when he jumps from a passing truck into her arms. Moments later, Minnie finds in the street another object that has apparently fallen off the vehicle: an amber ring. Determined to discover the owner(s) of the cat and the ring, the spunky young sleuth tackles a double mystery that brings her into contact with a handful of eccentric characters, including Klutz (aka Kitty), a policewoman in disguise; Leo the Lazy, a shifty fellow who ""slouched on the pier""; and Cash, a boy who has claimed an old boathouse for his ""club."" Like the fare at Orlando's restaurant, where just about every dish contains peaches and walnut shells, Giff's piquant plot mixes together some unlikely ingredients. Yet far-fetched as it is, this brief, whirlwind tale will keep even reluctant readers flipping the pages. Minnie teams up with Cash to find a stolen, prizewinning pigeon in Mary Moon Is Missing, due out the same month. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 7-11. (Oct.)