SHIRLEY & JAMILA’S BIG FALL | Kirkus Reviews
Ten-year-old Jamila Waheed is attending a new school, but luckily her best friend, Shirley Bones, is right by her side. After being inseparable over the summer, school-year busyness brings in a change of routine: homework, lessons, practices, and more. Jamila might have even made herself a second friend, Seena, through her community basketball team. Meanwhile, Shirley’s still on the detective beat. The latest case has the pair pitted against a formidable opponent: notorious sixth grader Chuck Milton. The school bully trades in secrets and wields them against fellow students he extorts, including their client. Can he be stopped? Is breaking and entering ever OK? How about faking a friendship? Goerz’s detailed and expressive art pairs with dynamic dialogue to create a strong cast of characters and plotting. Emotional tension from new and developing friendships and suspense stemming from the case keep the pacing taut. Readers will especially empathize with Jamila as she worries and works to balance friendships with very different people. The neighborhood school setting is diverse: Shirley is White, Jamila is Pakistani Canadian, and Seena is Afghan and Pakistani Canadian.