A remote island and a weekend getaway, with murder on the menu.
Think Agatha Christie’s classic Ten Little Indians retold as a graphic novel, an inspiration that Cali’s characters freely reference in the story. These characters, guests on remote Tortoise Island, are various insects: a fly called McFly, who comes in on an airplane; green Mr. Krikkit, who plays a guitar; the tall, yellow, segmented Johnny Nail; and others. Each thinks he’s coming for a different reason: a medical conference, swim meet, etc. An ominous recorded voice upbraids all assembled for unspecified misdeeds and predicts their imminent deaths. (The female praying mantis admits to tearing off her husband’s head and then eating him, but that’s just normal mantis behavior.) Accusations, search parties and crazy killings follow. One insect is poisoned when cider is added to the dung all are feasting on; another is locked in the freezer; a third drowns while trying to swim to the mainland for help. Secret tunnels, a mysterious lighthouse, a skull and a séance all figure into the twisty tongue-in-cheek plot. The storytelling is ably carried along by Cali’s punnish narrative and Pianina’s colorful cartoon panels, which run from five to 10 per page. The playful cover and book size falsely imply a story for young children, but it’s more for preteens and even teens.
Bright and altogether engaging; aspiring entomologists should find it extra amusing. (Graphic mystery. 10-15)