cover image The Mystery of the Burmese Bandicoot

The Mystery of the Burmese Bandicoot

Judy Cox. Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, $16.99 (246pp) ISBN 978-0-7614-5376-5

Launching the Tails of Frederick and Ishbu series, Cox's (Don't Be Silly, Mrs. Millie!) first middle-grade novel is a labyrinthine saga starring two rat brothers who escape from their cage in a fifth-grade classroom. The two have distinct, equally likable personalities: adventurous Frederick has eagerly absorbed the lessons taught in class, whereas timid Ishbu has spent most of his time snacking and snoozing. In the outside world, they encounter the Big Cheese, the villainous leader of the Bilgewater Brigade gang, who tries to recruit the duo to fetch the Burmese Bandicoot (a priceless, jewel-encrusted gold statue, hidden on a remote island in the Indian Ocean). Despite Frederick's initial inclination to sign up for adventure (""His blood was racing. He was ready to sail, ready to steal-no, wait!-'recover' the statue.""), the siblings flee and, following a series of misadventures, land, coincidentally enough, on the very island harboring the coveted statue. Giving this spry caper dimension are snippets of science, history and fiction Frederick has gleaned at school and the strong fraternal bond between the brothers, despite their differences. The action-packed story should readily hold readers' attention. Ages 10-up.