In this next installment in the graphic-novel series, fourth-graders become schoolyard sleuths.
Even though it is populated with a menagerie of animal characters, Mr. Wolf’s fourth-grade class’s routine is easily recognizable: There are myriad classroom interruptions, spills, hallway lines, and recess shenanigans. Three classmates—Randy, a pastel pink cat; Margot, a chocolate-brown bunny; and hijabi Aziza, a lavender duck—decide to form a mystery club and vow to find missing playground balls, learn what happened to a beloved teacher, and ascertain whether a bathroom is haunted. As the girls work through solving their cases, the final conundrum culminates at Randy’s birthday pizza party, which her entire class attends. Written and illustrated by Steinke, this authentic and charming comic offering is both eye-catching and accessible with its cheery plotlines and emphasis on friendship. The art is clean and bright, with simply rendered panels and clear speech bubbles. Since each volume shifts its lens to different students, this series works equally well as a stand-alone or as read sequentially; for those looking for more capers, a third volume is promised. Young readers should easily self-identify among the variety of animal characters, who encompass a broad spectrum of diversity, including having same-sex parents, dealing with anxiety, and ethnic differences. The last is cued with attire and naming convention, with no discernible attempt to correlate particular animals with particular cultural groups.
Familiar, fun, and all-around delightful. (Graphic fantasy. 6-10)