cover image To Catch a Thief

To Catch a Thief

Martha Brockenbrough. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-338-81858-1

A rising sixth grader works to return a beloved object and stop a spate of bad luck in this quirkily plotted, Pacific Northwest–set whodunit from Brockenbrough (The Game of Love and Death). Every year, “charming but run-down” Urchin Beach takes in important funds by hosting a Dragonfly Day Festival, during which tourists can pay to replenish their own good fortune by twirling a special dragonfly-marked staff three times over their heads. But after a thief snatches the publicly displayed staff from the arms of a central Sasquatch statue, imperiling the annual source of income and seeding mistrust across the community, a deluge of ill-fated events besets the town. Amelia MacGuffin, who generally lacks “gumption even for the littlest things,” investigates the incident, gathering up a library book on detecting, advice from neighbor Dr. Agatha (a writer of murder mysteries featuring “death by unusual methods”), and help from her family and community. Third-person prose alternates perspectives between the unknown thief and Amelia, detailing thoughtful Amelia’s efforts alongside those of her more adventurous siblings, all of whom meanwhile fear losing a stray dog they’ve come to love. The myriad threads together create a cozy mystery aimed at the heart. Amelia and her family are white; secondary characters indicate racial diversity in the community. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Apr.)