In language reminiscent of old-time-radio detective stories, Officer Binky narrates a few of his cases, which will be very familiar to young readers.
A call from Mrs. Bear sends Binky to his first crime scene: eaten porridge, broken chair, rumpled bed. “It could only be one dame: Goldilocks! I nabbed her trying to make her getaway….They’ll feed her three meals a day where she’s going.” A missing-person report has Binky driving to the Deep Dark Woods to investigate a woodcutter and his two children. It doesn’t take long for him to determine it was self-defense. An omelet leads the diminutive frog cop to Humpty’s killer, while the crime lab helps him solve the case of the poisoning of a beautiful girl by a beauty-pageant judge. The final case is less a mystery than an investigation into the cause of an explosion/earthquake. Luckily, some golden eggs are the hard evidence Binky needs to get the lieutenant to believe what happened. The acrylic artwork suits the noir atmosphere, somber colors and tension-filled scenes alternating with humorous details that match the tongue-in-cheek text. The one quibble is that Nickle’s people are rather stiff, with oddly shaped heads and strange facial expressions. Still, there is humor to appeal to all ages here.
Levinthal’s children’s-book debut lacks the laugh-out-loud silliness that is Margie Palatini and Richard Egielski’s mashup The Web Files (2001), but this will find an audience. (Fractured fairy tales. 5-9)