The Door in the Alley (The Explorers#1)
This pig-in-a-teeny-hat story starts when a very uninquisitive boy stumbles upon a very mysterious society. After that, there is danger and adventure; there are missing persons, hired thugs, a hidden box, a lost map, and famous explorers; and there is a girl looking for help that only uninquisitive boys can offer.
The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a series that is sure to hit young readers right in the funny bone.
It all starts with a pig in a teeny hat...
Sebastian lives a well ordered existence with his staid, science loving family, and he is rather annoyed when his cousin Hubert takes him down an unexplored alleyway on their way home from school one day, making him five minutes late getting home. They see a sign in the alley for "The Explorers' Society", and this intrigues Sebastian, although he knows better than to act on just any stray impulse. When he intercepts a pig in a tiny hat and is ordered by a man in a rumpled suit to bring it into the Society, he is concerned, especially when the director tells him he is trespassing and must be punished! The punishment ends up being much to Sebastian's liking, and he cleans and set the Society to rights. It is the assignment to do something out of his comfort zone that perplexes him, until he uncovers a mysterious box and sneaks it home with him.
Eventually, the two children meet up and try to locate the five members of the defunct and not-talked-about Filipendulous Society, since the most famous member of the group was Evie's gradnfather. This course of action is fraught with peril, and the children find themselves rappelling from clock towers, meeting up with boa constrictors, and being madly pursued by a man whose mouth is wired shut. Will Evie be able to locate her grandfather, and will Sebastian be able to come to grips with a wildly unorganized life? This ends in a cliffhanger, so perhaps we will find out in book two.
Perfect for more advanced, younger readers who enjoyed Beha's The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea, Milford's The Greenglass House, or Primavera's Ms. Rapscott's Girls, The Door in the Alley is a quirky, action packed mystery filled with puzzles, snarky footnotes, and pigs in hats.
This is very different from Kress' Young Adult titles such as The Friday Society or Hatter Mattigan. I'm not entirely sure that middle school students will go for it, but elementary students should love it.