Laugh Till You Cry

by Joan Lowery Nixon

ages 10 and older

Pity poor Cody Carter.

The 13-year-old has to spend the summer in Texas with his mom while she takes care of his grandmother. But as the end of summer approaches, his grandma isn't doing any better, so Cody has to stay in Texas for the school year. He has almost no friends, and his cousin, instead of helping him adjust to life in a new school, bullies Cody.

The only friend Cody manages to make is a police officer who wants to be a stand-up comic. (Nixon's teenage grandson helped her with some of the one-liners in the book.) But even that friendship may be in jeopardy when a bomb threat is received at school and Cody -- you guessed it -- is the prime suspect.

How Cody and Officer Ramsey team up to find the real culprit forms the heart of this mystery. But the book is more than just a whodunit. It's part summer vacation tale, part comedy (you're guaranteed to laugh out loud at some of the corny jokes) and, of course, part mystery.

At 112 pages, it's also short enough that you could easily finish it before that other book comes out next week.

This is the last of more than 130 kids' books written by Nixon, who died in 2003. If you enjoy it, try Nixon's "The Trap" or "The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore."

-- Tracy Grant