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The One and Onlys #1

Finally, Something Mysterious

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The best mysteries can only be solved with your best friends. The perfect summer read for fans of Stuart Gibbs.

Paul Marconi has always thought that Bellwood was a strange town, but also a bit of a boring one. Not much for an 11 year old to do. Fires are burning nearby, Paul's parents are obsessed with winning a bratwurst contest, his best friend, one of the founding members of their only-sibling detective club, The One and Onlys, is about to have a younger sister, sort of undoing their whole reason for existing. But then! Hundreds of rubber duckies have appeared on the lawn of poor Mr. Babbage without any explanation. Finally! There is something that Paul and his friends can actually investigate.

In the face of all these strange occurences, Paul is convinced that solving who put the duckies on that lawn will finally bring some sense to what has become an upside down world. Soon the three friends have a long list of suspects, all with their own motives, but no clear culprit. When everything comes to a head at the town's annual Bellwood Bratwurst Bonanza, Paul discovers some that some things don't have an easy explanation and not everything can be solved.

A perfect summer story about friends, amateur sleuthing and a whole lot of rubber duckies.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2020

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Doug Cornett

3 books27 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 59 reviews
Profile Image for Linda.
464 reviews1 follower
January 31, 2022
This was a buddy read with my daughter (10), who picked out this book.

This was a fun kids' mystery, revolving around three kids who have formed their own detective club. The mystery takes place as the town is getting ready to put on their annual bratwurst festival, so there is a lot of gearing up of testing new recipes and anticipation of whose recipe is going to win this year. There is a lot of banter back and forth among the kids, and it was fun to see their thought process while trying to figure how exactly who put all the rubber duckies in the front yard of one of the residents. While I had my suspicions early on as to the "how", I didn't actually peg down the "who", so the ending was still a bit of a surprise.

My daughter is still reading the book and is miffed I won't tell her who did it. ha ha. Why is she asking for spoilers?? And how can she be a daughter of mine if she wants to be spoiled by the ending of a book?!
Profile Image for Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*.
6,001 reviews186 followers
July 4, 2020
Finally, Something Mysterious by Doug Cornett, 244 pages. Alfred A. Knopf (Random House), 2020. $17.

Language: G (1 swear); Mature Content G; Violence: G



Fifth graders, Paul Marconi and his two friends call themselves the One and Onlys, because they have no siblings. Even though the town of Bellwood is already strange, things only get stranger when a load of rubber ducks end up on a neighbor’s lawn, a former babysitter sneaks off into the forest at night, and the town gets caught up in the frenzy of the annual Bratwurst Bonanza. So it’s up to the amateur sleuths to figure out the mysterious happenings.

As someone who dreamed of finding a mystery to solve, I liked this story because the mystery was not so dangerous that it would be out of the realm of fifth graders. The adults in the story are likeable and Paul even has two competent parents. There is humor and adventure as Paul, Shanks, and Peephole work together and deal not only with the mystery but friendship and change. And if you like small town festivals and Bratwurst, it’s an even bigger bonus.

Michelle in the Middle
Profile Image for Kathie.
Author 2 books66 followers
January 12, 2020
Thank you to the author for sending an ARC of this book to #bookportage for review.

In the small town of Bellwood, everybody knows what's going on...until they don't. One morning, the town awakes to find Mr. Babbage's lawn covered in rubber duckies, and no clue as to how they got there. Paul and his friends, Shanks and Peephole, are determined to make it to the bottom of the mystery, but there are many possible suspects they need to rule out. Could it be the disgruntled next door neighbor, Mr. Pocus, or is someone else trying to send a message to Mr. Babbage, who also happens to be the judge in the town's upcoming annual Bellwood Bratwurst Bonanza (or Triple B). Can the junior detective wannabes solve the case before the winner of the contest is determined?

I really enjoyed this mystery because it was humorous, and kept me guessing to figure out where the rubber duckies came from, and why. The cover is very appealing, as is the length, and I expect kids are really going to be drawn to it. I will be adding it to my collection when it comes out in April.
Profile Image for Karah Sutton.
Author 2 books118 followers
May 29, 2020
This was such a funny, clever mystery! The story follows Paul and his best friends as they try to uncover the culprit who left an enormous pile of rubber duckies in the backyard of someone in their small town. Like my favorite mysteries, this one has a giant cast of characters, each with unique quirks, and the story portrays them with a huge dose of empathy and thoughtfulness amidst all the jokes. The clues get more bizarre (a fish in a tree?), to the point where it seems impossible that the story will resolve in a way that makes sense. But it all comes together, and it sure is satisfying!
Profile Image for Christina.
1,289 reviews
March 18, 2020
I picked up an ARC of this middle-grade novel at the Public Library Association conference a few weeks ago. I was hoping to find something my niece would like. She’s nine, and I’ve found that so many books aimed at middle schoolers deal with content that’s too mature for her—going through puberty and crushes, or the death of a parent or someone close to you. This was a refreshing discovery, as it seems perfectly aimed at readers who have outgrown the early chapter books, but is still appropriate for a kid (9-11) rather than a pre-teen/young teen.

The first thing that drew me to this novel was the cover. My niece, nephew and I used to love playing the crane game at the arcade that allows you to win little rubber ducks—we usually left with a pile of them, and I’d often find a random stray duck buried in my purse weeks later. This is a contemporary novel (they text emojis), but it reminded me a little of the kid detective novels I grew up with in the 1980s. It centers on three kids who just finished fifth grade. Paul is the narrator, he loves solving mysteries and his family owns the local hardware store. He has a club with his two best friends—a short and fearless girl nicknamed Shanks who, like Paul, loves mysteries, and a tall boy nicknamed Peephole who has a photographic memory.

Their summer, and the novel, begins with a mystery—a huge number of rubber ducks appear one summer morning in the backyard of the reigning champion of the town’s annual bratwurst festival. What makes it feel a bit old-fashioned is that it’s set in a safe small town, where they have the freedom to ride their bikes wherever they want, and know most of the people, including adults, by name. Their parents are present and caring, but there’s still plenty of opportunity for kid adventure that’s fun without ever feeling scary—they're never in danger, though they do break some rules. I don’t think kids today have that level of freedom like I did growing up, but I do think that at that age, you want to read a novel about kids who have adventures and autonomy, without worrying about real world dangers. Delightfully, there’s also a map of the town at the beginning of the novel (I loved those as a kid, and still do).

The author is a teacher, and the novel has a humorous tone, making me chuckle several times. It’s clear he understands kids, and he even throws in a Poe reference and there’s a hidden reference to a line from Shakespeare. I’ll admit, I figured out almost the whole mystery before I was halfway through, but I’m not the target audience and I’ve read a lot of mysteries. I can also appreciate that the author played fair by laying out all the clues, some of which the characters don’t pick up on but the reader might. So a smart reader can figure it out, unlike those mysteries where it’s impossible because key facts are withheld until the end.

The end sets up the potential for this to be a series, though there’s no mention of a book 2. Cornett does a good job of creating a world and characters readers will want to return to, and I look forward to sharing this with my niece.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.1k reviews271 followers
April 29, 2020
This might be a good choice for a summer read since this novel features three fifth graders who are good friends and members of the One and Onlys due to their status as only children in their families. Paul Marconi and his friends, Shanks and Peephole--those are their nicknames--love to meet in secret in their special place and just hang out. There isn't a lot to do in their town, but Bellwood does have its charms and oddities, in particular, its annual bratwurst festival in which several citizens compete for the first prize. When Paul and his friends spot a yard full of plastic yellow ducks in a neighbor's yard, they are bound and determined to solve the mystery and follow the clues to a cast of suspects. While the youngsters are trying to sort everything out, Peephole is dealing with his worries about his new baby sister who was born prematurely and Paul becomes aware that his parents are struggling financially and preoccupied by the impending arrival of a large box store that is sure to put their hardware store out of business .There is a unique cast of characters featured in this book, and the youngsters always seem to be just one step ahead of trouble. As might be expected, there is quite a lot of humor in this book's pages, even concerning the friends' names and the bratwurst. Undoubtedly, there will be many readers who may want to spend their free time trying to find and solve the mysteries in their own neighborhoods.
189 reviews
September 2, 2022
We really enjoyed this book. Lots of laughter, good problem solving happening while I read and fun twists and turns. I also really appreciated the relationships between all three sets of parents and how healthy and happy they were. There were great moments of healthy, functioning families portrayed throughout which is not the case in many other recent books.
Profile Image for Lindsey Burnett.
50 reviews
December 7, 2022
Super cute story. A nice bridge for a young reader between more juvenile topics and adult topics. A little too mature for my reader, but it’s perfect for that 8-10 year old range.
Profile Image for MaykenAlanna.
106 reviews
October 27, 2021
This was so funny! At Paul's age, I played detective with my cousins (because I was an only too), and we'd have loved to have something mysterious like those rubber duckies. I tried to figure out the clues alongside Paul but there were always some unexpected revelations. And lots of rubber duckies!
Profile Image for Christina.
171 reviews4 followers
January 4, 2020
Your eyes don’t deceive you - those really are rubber duckies...a lot of rubber duckies...a mysterious amount of rubber duckies! But don’t worry, the One and Onlys are on the case! FINALLY, SOMETHING MYSTERIOUS (releasing 4/14/20) by Doug Cornett is a laugh-out-loud, fast-paced, puzzling tale that had me speculating (and chuckling) until the very end! Doug Cornett wastes no time presenting the peculiar scene in Mr. Babbage’s backyard in the first chapter with the humorous and outgoing Paul Marconi narrating the weird happenings in his otherwise quiet town of Bellwood. An unexplained scattering of rubber ducks prompted Mr. Babbage’s call to the police and Officer Portnoy shows up to investigate, but the One and Onlys are eager to play detectives as well. I adored Paul and his two best friends, Peephole and Shanks (you’ll learn how they got their incredible nicknames), with their distinct personalities and mannerisms that made for such an entertaining, engaging story. They are intelligent, quirky, and bring their own strengths to the team effort on this adventure that is full of twists, turns, and the annual Bellwood Bratwurst Bonanza! Sprinkled sentimental moments between friends, family, and the townsfolk are lovey and relatable, really rounding out the story well. FINALLY, SOMETHING MYSTERIOUS was an extremely enjoyable, clever read that was more fun than a barrel of monkeys...or rubber duckies. Lots of rubber duckies.
Profile Image for Stephanie Tournas.
2,081 reviews16 followers
June 14, 2020
During the summer before sixth grade, Paul Marconi wishes for something interesting to happen. When a giant pile of rubber duckies appears in a neighbor's yard over night, Paul and his buddies Shanks and Peephole are delighted to have something to investigate. The three friends call themselves The One and Onlys, and are sure that they are the only ones who can solve the mystery. Various people in the town of Bellwood come under suspicion, including the mostly inept police officer Portnoy. Readers get to know these folks - Mr Babbage, whose yard the duckies appeared in, Mr Pocus, a mean teacher who lives next door to Mr Babbage, Janice, a teen who plays the tuba, and others. Meanwhile, the town is excitedly anticipating the annual Bratwurst Bonanza, where entrants compete for the best original bratwurst concoction. Plenty of comic nods to weiners (Who will be the weiner of the contest?) and clever plot twists will keep kids interested and guessing until the final showdown at the Triple B (Bellwood Bratwurst Bonanza). The story is narrated by Paul, and his voice is wry, with a touch of the comedian. I like the relationships between the friends - they each have quirks, but they care about each other. An interesting part of the setting of this California town is that there are wildfires nearby.  Clever readers may see this as a key to solving the mystery. And, there's a neat map, always a plus in my book.

Negatives: There seem to be no characters of color; all families seem white, with male and female parents. There is a thread in the story about a mega-store coming into the small town, but it fizzles out without resolution. I think that part could have been developed more.

 For middle grade readers who enjoy gentle mysteries, with no murder or mayhem, and who like wordplay.
Profile Image for Kate Waggoner.
400 reviews
August 11, 2020

Thank you to @randomhousekids for sharing an advance copy of Finally, Something Mysterious by @dougcornettwrites with the #Kidlitexchange network. This book was released in April 2020. All opinions are my own.

Paul Marconi and his friends, Shanks and Peephole, call themselves the One and Onlys since they're all only children. The three friends are always on the hunt for a good mystery to solve. Most of their cases so far, like the mystery of the missing remote, haven't been all that intriguing, so when hundreds of little, yellow, rubber duckies mysteriously appear overnight in a neighbor's yard, the three jump at the opportunity to solve the mystery. The three start to collect clues and create a list of suspects. Will it be the guy with the broken tail light, the fishing enthusiast with the rubber ducky on her desk, the girl with mud on her shoes, or maybe the cranky next door neighbor who looks all too pleased to see the duckies coating the yard?

This was a super fun and quirky middle grades mystery novel about friendship and dealing with change. While the primary plot has to do with the mysterious rubber duckies, Cornett did an excellent job of weaving in a sub-conflict dealing with the topic of change. By the end of the book, many characters have changed and/or learned that change can't be avoided and can even be good. I found the mystery elements of the story to be intriguing and I liked the use of red herring (or should I say tiger trout?) throughout the novel. Each time I thought I'd figured it out, something new was revealed that ruined my hypothesis but added to the mystique. I also enjoyed the humorous tone of the novel and hilarious characters. I especially enjoyed Officer Portnoy and how he would continuously mess up every person's name. This is a fantastic and funny mystery book that I think my middle schoolers will love.
Profile Image for Tara.
133 reviews4 followers
August 4, 2020
A pitch recommending the book to fans of Stuart Gibbs
A very intriguing cover
A mystery to solve

It all happened so fast I hardly remember the purchase. But there it was, in my hands: the newly released debut novel by Doug Cornett: Finally, Something Mysterious.

The action all takes place in Bellwood, a small community with a big mystery: how did a lawn full of rubber duckies mysteriously appear overnight in the backyard of a fellow Bellwoodian? Was it sabotage? The widely anticipated Bratwurst Bonanza is just around the corner, and the duckies were found in the lawn of the consistent champion.

Or maybe a spat with a neighbor? The victim lives next door to a fourth-grade teacher so grouchy it's "as if every single morning he poured rotten milk on his Cheerios to keep himself mean."

The One and Onlys, a team of three friends who are all 'only children', are on the case - and they seem a lot smarter than some of the adults who are working to solve it! Students will enjoy the humor and the way these kids one-up the inept investigating officer on a regular basis.

The pacing of the story kept me reading along at a good clip, and as the clues pile up, trying to determine what really happened is a fun exercise in inductive reasoning. Finally, Something Mysterious has a Lexile measure of 790. Newly released in April 2020, this book is hot off the presses and a great choice for students in grades 3-5. Many middle school readers will enjoy it, as well!
Finally, Something Mysterious
1 review
April 30, 2020
Adventure, suspense, and question. When reading, I ask myself; what clue will pop up next, who/what will come in the way next, and who is or isn't a suspect? All those questions get answered in Doug Cornett’s “Finally Something Mysterious”.
Paul has always loved solving mysteries with his two best friends so when a yard full of rubber duckies appears out of nowhere, they are right on the case. With lots coming up, Paul’s summer that was supposed to be a boring summer with hardly anything going on, turns into mayhem and mystery, Paul gets excited. Because Paul and his two friends, known as the one and onlys involved themselves in the case, they can't back down. From fighting wildfires, to becoming a big brother, to solving the big mystery, and then to the Annual Bratwurst Bonanza; the One and Onlys are on the case.
This book is an awesome read for anyone who loves mystery books to trying the genre for the first time. I couldn't stop reading until I was done and throughout the whole book I had a list of suspects of my own. This book deserves to be rated five out of five stars and should be. I recommend reading this book immediately.
Profile Image for Keshia Harvey.
83 reviews2 followers
March 14, 2020
@kidlitexchange #partner Thanks to the #kidlitexchange network, publisher @randomhousekids, and author @dougcornettwrites for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own! The One and Onlys love solving a mystery, but in Bellwood there are not many satisfying cases to work on. Until the day Mr. Babbage woke up to find his lawn covered in rubber ducks. Paul, Shanks, and Peephole finally have a real mystery to try to solve! Who put the ducks in the yard and why? The One and Onlys begin to collect clues and suspects while trying to avoid Officer Portnoy, who has made it clear that they should leave it alone. As the days get closer to the Bellwood Bratwurst Bonanza (the most important celebration in the town) the junior detectives begin to feel the pressure to figure out the mystery of the ducks. They put together an elaborate plot to catch the culprit. Finally, Something Mysterious is a great summer read about friendship for your middle grade readers who love solving their own mystery. As an adult reader, I only put together some pieces to the final reveal and I think kids would have fun trying to puzzle this one out! This book will be published on April 14, 2020 so look for it soon!
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
Author 40 books33 followers
January 22, 2020
A light and charming mystery in the Carl Hiaasen/Kate DiCamillo style.
A trio of smalltown middle school detectives take on a local mystery and through tenacity and imagination, (spoiler alert) solves the mystery! Like a more wholesome and much less dark “Stranger Things,” “Finally, Something Mysterious” is a fun read populated by kooky and eccentric characters in a quirky but loveable small town. The writing is fresh and effervescent, with original turns of phrase that I loved, such as something gross being evaluated “on a scale of one to barf,” and a fish’s size being described as “bigger than a goldfish, but not big enough to take your picture with.” The book lightly touches on heavy subjects (wildfires, premature birth), but does not get bogged down. Grown-ups are kind and supportive, rather than sinister. A stress-free mystery if ever there was one.
“Finally, Something Mysterious” is a fun, wholesome and imaginative mystery for middle graders.
1,140 reviews6 followers
June 20, 2020
I was completely caught off guard by how much I enjoyed this book!! It made me smile and cheer. These seemed like real 5th graders who were friends and trying to have summer fun in a small town. I imagine a lot of kids would want to solve a mystery about how all those rubber duckies ended up on the neighbors lawn. There was great kid detective work, enough mystery to keep me engaged, displays of genuine friendships, close families, and a nice depiction of small town life. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to recommending it to others. I will also be putting it on our Battle of the Books recommendation list. I look forward to reading more by Doug Cornett
Profile Image for Allison Parker.
658 reviews20 followers
July 3, 2020
When a hundred yellow duckies appear on Mr. Babbage’s lawn, everyone in the small town Bellwood is baffled by the mystery. Lucky Bellwood is home to the One and Onlys, a group of kid detectives and best friends, who jump at the chance to solve something mysterious. Surely this has something to do with the upcoming Bellwood Bratwurst Bonanza - Mr. Babbage is the reigning champ 4 years in a row, and plenty of other people have their eyes on the prize. But who had the means to pull off this dastardly ducky deed - and really, why?? They will have to dodge the disapproving Officer Portnoy and trick their neighbors into spilling all their secrets to figure out this mystery. Fun!
214 reviews1 follower
August 7, 2020
This is the author's first book and I would think it may be the first of many. This read has mystery (of course), friends and family, inevitable changes, and a small town feel.

Paul, Shank, and Peephole are three great friends who call themselves The One and Only's and of course they have a hideout. They are on summer break and they are junior detectives off on the hunt for a mystery to solve. Along the way there are some hilarious things that happen to the three of them along with townspeople that you meet along the way.

The story deals with friendship, change, and self discovery. I think that adults would enjoy this story as much as children will.

Profile Image for Arianne Costner.
Author 2 books67 followers
May 20, 2020
THIS. BOOK. I am seriously so impressed!! It’s a very smart mystery about mysteriously appearing rubber duckies, a fish in a tree, and a bratwurst bonanza.

Everything about this book was kooky, quirky, hilarious, and had me laughing out loud. It ended with a feel-good message about embracing change. The mystery was one of the cleverest I have ever read. I was totally guessing until the very end and was shocked by all the little details that came together that I didn’t even notice. SERIOUSLY SO GOOD
Profile Image for Shan Salter.
81 reviews13 followers
September 10, 2020
Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

By Doug Cornett

This middle-grade mystery is a fast-paced and fun read about a boy named Paul and his mystery-loving friends (with great nicknames) and a whole lot of rubber ducks.

The characters are memorable and the town is quaint and well described, including an illustrated map.

Perfect for puzzles solvers. An enjoyable read!

@kidlitexchange #bookstagram #kidlitexchange #kidlit @dougcornettwrites @randomhousekids
Profile Image for Karen Johnson.
465 reviews4 followers
January 30, 2022
What a crazy ride of a book. Lots of silliness and fun. It's about 3 odd "detective" friends in a small town that celebrates Bratwurst. The town's name is Bellwood, and even that is funny. The town inhabitants are odd, and the town cop is well-meaning but dense, so there's humor there too. The kids figure thins out and lead him to see it.
There is also clever language play, lots of situational humor. Include the importance of friendship and a few little life lessons along the way, and you have a terrific, highly readable book for middle readers.
July 25, 2022
If I had one word to describe this book I would use adorable. Considering this book being a mystery, I don’t think I was ever scared. I was just laughing and had the biggest grin on my face. It was such a joy to read and I seriously loved the dynamic Peephole, Shanks, and Paul had! The only thing that really turned me off was the fact Paul was the “boring” character even though he was the main one. Also, why was he so attached to Bella Tuff and Janice? That was never fully explained.
Regardless of those small details, I seriously recommend this book.
Profile Image for Jaymie.
2,014 reviews15 followers
May 18, 2020
Fun middle grade mystery. Loved the solution to the case. The series of events that put the duckies into the yard was clever. I enjoyed the interplay between the kids and local law enforcement. There's enough non-mystery content to round the story out nicely without making the reader wonder where the mystery went - the balance is good. If this becomes a series, I would keep reading these. Loved the kids in this.
8 reviews
October 14, 2022
I never thought there would be a book with bratwurst rubber ducks and still be a mystery?! The ending when I found out who put the ducks on Babbage's yard I was like whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!?! I never thought that it would even be an OK book all the time it spent siting on the shelf waiting to be read but if its at my house it wont have to wait long but I thought it would be a bad book but it turns out to be amazing! I love that book I hope I find another book just like it!
Profile Image for Michele.
134 reviews
March 26, 2019
A zany cast of characters with some equally unusual story elements: rubber duckies, a scooter-riding tuba player and a Bratwurst Bonanza! Of course the kids solve the mystery...eventually. After targeting all the wrong suspects for all the wrong reasons, the clues come together. Showcases great friendships and solid, supportive family relationships as well.
Profile Image for Stewart Hoffman.
Author 5 books84 followers
May 16, 2020
Finally, Something Mysterious is a quick, light, well-constructed read for adults and a clever, mysterious detective story for younger readers. For me personally, the story didn’t hide its mysteries all that well, but the character and plot work is so solid that I didn’t mind. I recommended Finally, Something Mysterious for middle-grade readers on up!
Profile Image for Kim.
229 reviews
April 18, 2023
Predictable. It’s obvious from the beginning how the duckies got in the man’s backyard. The explanation at the end, however, is not believable at all. I also found the characters to either be a bit flat or a caricature of a stereotype (ex. Grumpy teacher). There’s at least one instance of taking the Lord’s name in vain. Otherwise, no issues.
Profile Image for Niki.
1,104 reviews9 followers
April 16, 2020
Middle grade readers will enjoy this humorous mystery. The junior detectives are working hard to solve the mystery of the rubber ducks in Bellwood!

NOTE: I received an ARC of Finally, Something Mysterious at OLA Superconference and the book celebrated its launch yesterday.
Profile Image for Sarah.
58 reviews1 follower
March 2, 2021
Delightful! The author really captures the silliness that can exist in small towns and the hilarious language of children. The mystery was well paced and the reveals all made sense but weren't predictable.

Still laughing about Shanks being called Chunk 🤣 Made me wish I could attend the Triple B to sample the winning dish!
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