A boy manages to keep a huge secret in this chapter book.

This engaging tale about a black family explains how Ardwick “Ardie” Edward Smith concealed an important secret. Ardie knows he must stay busy to deflect his parents’ suspicions. But when soccer practice in the yard and his porch-rail balancing draw their attention, he realizes he needs a different strategy. He confides in a helpful teacher, who suggests he concoct a project. After choosing one, he collects supplies from around the house, distracting his parents by pretending he’s a detective on a case. A subplot about how he finds it hard to share with his younger brother provides readers with their first clue. Ardie has a big brother who lives far away—and it’s this sibling who told him the secret. As the clues mount and Ardie finishes his project, readers should be as delighted as his family about the big surprise and happy to see how the supplies came into play. Seay’s (The Girl Who Loved Pots, 2017) frequent computer-generated illustrations of the family are perfect in tone and provide extra details and plenty of clues for beginning readers. Siblings are sure to identify with Ardie, and the author’s use of suspense in slowly revealing hints about the secret should keep the audience guessing.

A charming day-in-the-life adventure for newly independent readers.

Kirkus Reviews
July 25th, 2018