A Bird Scout scavenger hunt sends avian buddies Speed Bump and Slingshot into that scariest of all places…a shopping mall.
Little Speed Bump is understandably frantic as he sets out late to gather “something that turns, / something that’s pink, / something that burns, / something that stinks” to earn his Scavenger Badge. Guided by an overcaffeinated nuthatch, the two Bird Scouts slip through the glass doors into a crowded mall. There they are so beguiled by the pleasures of the food court (pizza crumbs, french fries, and “Pieces of cookie WITH CHOCOLATE STILL IN THEM!”) that they doze past closing time. One spooky night later, Speed Bump stows away in a purse to get out—and is trapped in a car that speeds off, with his would-be rescuers flapping desperately in pursuit. Coverly casts the outing partly in short passages of narrative but mostly in big, loosely drawn pen-and-ink cartoons with dialogue balloons and no end of sight gags, from a “Moltzart” poster in Speed Bump’s bedroom to shops with names like “Starbeaks” and “Bird Bath & Beyond.” Human figures are mostly white when they’re not just scribbles in the background. Ultimately the Scouts earn their badges by ransacking that purse for a key, lipstick, red-hot candies, and a spritzer of “Parfum.”
Ethically iffy there at the end but overall a lighter-than-air escapade with just a light wash of satire. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-9)