Book Title & Alexandra's Review

Notorious by Gordon Korman

5th Grade and Up


Keenan has lived all over the world but nowhere quite as strange as Centerlight Island, which is split between the United States and Canada. The only thing weirder than Centerlight itself is his neighbor Zarabeth, aka ZeeBee.
ZeeBee is obsessed with the island’s history as a Prohibition-era smuggling route. She’s also convinced that her beloved dog, Barney, was murdered—something Keenan finds pretty hard to believe.
Just about everyone on Centerlight is a suspect, because everyone hated Barney, a huge dog—part mastiff, part Rottweiler—notorious for terrorizing the community. Accompanied by a mild-mannered new dog who is practically Barney’s opposite, ZeeBee enlists Keenan’s help to solve the mystery.
As Keenan and ZeeBee start to unravel the clues, they uncover a shocking conspiracy that dates back to Centerlight’s gangster past. The good news is that Keenan may have found the best friend he’s ever had. The bad news is that the stakes are sky-high.
And now someone is after them. . .


Each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view, mainly focusing on Keenan and ZeeBee with a few other characters thrown in.


The setting of an island town bordering the U.S.A. and Canada is not only interesting it’s also ridiculous.

By ridiculous I mean it’s ridiculous how everyone made a big deal about what happens on whose side of the border and who is Canadian and who is American. I get that the United States and Canada are different countries with different money, laws, flags, and French fry toppings. But when you live on the border of both countries, where you can “Pass gas anywhere in Centerlight and they smell it is two different countries,” are certain things really worth being so hostile about? At times, the whole border felt like something from a cartoon where someone uses duct tape to split a room down the middle. I know that’s not how borders between countries work, but that’s just what it felt like.


ZeeBee is definitely an odd person. She knows every historical gangster landmark in town and what violent and/or illegal event happened there, which I found both morbid and fascinating. This is just one of the few reasons why most of Centerlight doesn’t like her. The main reason being her monster mutt of a dog, Barney. Nothing your dog has ever done could compare to what Barney has done. This dog wreaked havoc throughout the town, terrorizing both the U.S. and Canada, tearing up gardens, damaging property, and stealing food from stores.The only person who loved Barney was ZeeBee and it breaks her heart that she is the only one who cares that he’s dead. When you truly love your dog, you love them no matter what they do.


A good portion of this story isn’t just about solving Barney the dog’s murder. There’s why Keenan is living on Centerlight Island, friend drama between Keenan and ZeeBee, U.S. and Canada drama, etc. But I won’t be getting into that.


In conclusion, this is a great adventure/mystery story with a unique setting with strong realistic characters.


This weeks’ Weird but True Fact about Dog Sizes and the U.S./Canadian Border

If humans came in as many sizes as dogs, we’d range from three to eighteen feet tall.

At an opera house on the U.S. – Canadian border, the stage is in Canada while most seats are in the United States.

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