Samantha Spinner and the Perplexing Pants

Delacorte. (Samantha Spinner: Bk. 4). Jan. 2021. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781984849236.
Gr 4-6–When 11-year-old Samantha Spinner’s Uncle Paul is kidnapped by a group of men and women in white coats and green visors, she immediately goes to work trying to decipher the two clues he left behind: a yellow mitten and a note reading, “Watch out for the SNOW!” Soon, Samantha and her brother Nipper are traveling to Michigan on the secret human-size marble maze transport system they discovered on their last adventure. While Samantha eventually ends up in the lair of a math-based criminal organization, Nipper travels to Egypt in a desperate attempt to save his beloved baseball team, the Yankees, from a curse caused by a stolen ring. The two siblings are reunited in a daring final battle against Absolute Zero, the villain who has captured their uncle. This fourth installment is full of math-based puzzles and facts. Frequent references to characters and events in previous adventures may confuse newcomers, and the multiple plotlines are a bit convoluted. But fans of the series will enjoy the wacky twists, wordplay, and puzzles (including several codes that are scattered throughout) with explanations at the end. Although race is never explicitly mentioned, most of the characters in Fisinger’s cartoon-style illustrations appear to be white, with the exception of the darker-skinned Fiona Hill, a young master detective who makes a brief appearance. Journal entries describing real locations, like the Detroit Institute of Arts, are scattered throughout, mixing facts with fiction. The book ends on a startling cliff-hanger hinting at the next book’s exploits.
VERDICT Fans of this puzzle-rich series will enjoy this latest entry, which will leave them eager for the adventure to continue.

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