cover image The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit

The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit

Octavia Spencer, illus. by Vivienne To. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4424-7681-3

Academy Award–winning actor Spencer debuts with an assured, entertaining whodunit that launches the Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective series. Still smarting from her mother’s death, 12-year-old Randi finds comfort in solving neighborhood mysteries, mimicking the heroine of her father’s detective novels. A black belt in Tae Kwon Do, headstrong Randi resents her father’s overprotectiveness and his decision to relocate from Brooklyn to Tennessee. It proves to be a saving move for Randi, who swore off friends after her mother died (“It was easier to be alone than it was to feel pitied all the time”). She lets her guard down and befriends two boys who help her locate a missing time capsule. The curlicue mystery involves some silly small-town drama and a few extraneous loops, but also considerable suspense. There are genuinely affecting moments, too; one of Randi’s friends, whose father abandoned his family, tells her it’s okay to cry: “You don’t have to be tough all the time.” To contributes polished, cinematically lit illustrations (not all seen by PW), and appendices outline tips for aspiring sleuths. Ages 8–12. Agent: Andy McNicol, William Morris Endeavor. Illustrator’s agent: Shannon Associates. (Oct.)