Book Review: The Misfits #1: A Royal Conundrum by Lisa Yee, Dan Santat (Illustrator)
When a notorious thief is out for priceless treasure (gems! cats! general decorum!)—who’re you gonna call? An elite team of crime-fighting underdogs, that’s who! The Misfits are on the case in this hilarious illustrated series from Newbery Honoree Lisa Yee and Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat!
“For any kid who’s felt like a misfit, this crackling adventure packs a wallop!” —Lincoln Peirce, creator of Big Nate and Max & the Midknights
Olive Cobin Zang has . . . issues. And they mostly aren’t her fault. (No, really!) Though she often slips under the radar, problems have a knack for finding her. So, imagine her doubts when she’s suddenly dropped off at the strangest boarding school ever: a former castle turned prison that’s now a “reforming arts school”!
But nothing could’ve prepared Olive for RASCH (not “rash”). There, she’s lumped with a team of other kids who never quite fit in, and discovers that the academy isn’t what it seems—and neither is she. In fact, RASCH is a cover for an elite group of misfits who fight crime . . . and Olive has arrived just in time.
Turns out that RASCH is in danger of closing, unless Olive’s class can stop the heist of the century. And as Olive falls in love with this wacky school, she realizes it’s up to her new team to save the only home that’s ever welcomed them.
You know what I love? A heist. A caper. A crime ring. A plan full of red herrings. Spy gadget tech. Secret societies. Spies. All of it. And former mostly regular kid Olive suddenly finds herself in the center of all of this stuff.
Olive is shipped off to a reforming arts school that appears to maybe be some kind of arts school located in a former prison. For a kid who only kind of got in a little mischief before, it seems extreme to suddenly send her away to this school, but whatever. It’s not like her parents were ever around anyway. Once as RASCH (the school), she finds herself taking part in some very weird tests to determine her aptitude and her place in the school. She ends up in what feels like a group of misfits leftovers that they didn’t know what to do with. Little does she know that soon she and the other four students will be an elite force of specially trained kids who the school can use to stop crimes. Their specific talents (and their extensive training) will come in handy as they chase the Bling King and recover jewels.
At RASCH, no one is as they seem, which is, of course, quite satisfying. Anything the reader thinks they know about anyone introduced in the book will probably get turned on its head. The story is fast-paced and, to the surprise of no one, I’m sure, Santat’s expressive and dynamic illustrations add much to the story. It’s fun to literally see the kids in action. This will be an easy one to recommend to kids who like action, adventure, hijinks, and kids doing cool things like solving big crimes. Can’t wait for the next one!
Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication date: 01/02/2024
Series: The Misfits #1
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
SLJ Blog Network