A serviceable introduction to sleuthing for more fluent readers who are almost ready for early chapter books.

READ REVIEW

THE CASE OF PIGGY'S BANK

From the Detective Paw of the Law series

Archer (of the Urgency Emergency! series) takes on the mystery genre in her new Detective Paw of the Law series.

Dream team Detective Paw (an old dog) and Patrol Officer Prickles (a young porcupine) sure love solving crime together—even when it’s hard. Early one Monday morning at Big City Police Headquarters, a call interrupts Detective Paw’s doughnut breakfast. Someone has robbed Piggy’s Bank! With notebook, pencil, and magnifying glass in hand, Detective Paw speeds to the scene of the crime in his Vintagemobile. The first to greet Detective Paw is Patrol Officer Prickles, who uses his “electronic notepad” to present the existing evidence. Detective Paw individually interviews the bank employees and cross-checks their alibis. Since the safe isn’t broken, only someone with the keys to unlock it could be the culprit. But who? Divided into four chapters, the step-by-step story logically follows the detective’s thought process as readers crack the case alongside him. Though there can be up to 16 lines per page, ample leading helps give the text a spacious feel. Archer’s mix of colorful full-page and spot illustrations aids in decoding more complex sentences. Her expressive, cartoony character design delightfully accentuates comedic moments. The Case of The Stolen Drumsticks, which is different in plot but identical in formula, publishes simultaneously.

A serviceable introduction to sleuthing for more fluent readers who are almost ready for early chapter books. (Early reader/mystery. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1557-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A disappointment from a noted writer in an era when outstanding early readers abound.

THE BIG SOMETHING

From the Fiercely and Friends series , Vol. 1

The Big Something doesn’t end up amounting to much in this lackluster beginning reader.

As the first in the planned Fiercely and Friends series, the text amounts to more exposition than narrative substance. Jilli’s dog Fiercely digs a hole under a fence, and though she frets that he is “digging straight down to China” he ends up in the neighboring yard. Peeping through a hole in the fence, Jilli and Jim (children will ask whether he's her friend or her brother—the text is unclear) see workers “building a Big Red Something.” Also in the next yard is a mysterious woman wearing a witch’s hat and standing on a ladder to paint ice-cream cones and gumdrops on the structure’s walls, making it akin to the witch’s house in "Hansel and Gretel." Curious, Jilli and Jim go to a shed to don disguises (and pause to eat gummy bears stuck to its floor). Then they use a gummy bear to entice Fiercely to return, which provokes the painting woman to come talk with them. Lo and behold, she isn’t a witch, but Ms. Berry, “the nicest teacher.” She tells the children that The Big Red Something is a “new school” and they follow her into the yard to help her paint. Palmisciano’s watercolor illustrations visually describe the text but stop short of adding engaging detail or expansion.

A disappointment from a noted writer in an era when outstanding early readers abound. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-24459-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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Not perfect but a pleasant-enough caper that bridges a gap between leveled readers and chapter books.

FOUL PLAY AT ELM TREE PARK

From the Q & Ray series , Vol. 3

A hedgehog and rat solve a gentle whodunit.

Quillan, a tawny-hued hedgehog who goes by Q, and Ray, a chocolate-colored rat, return for their third graphic-novel mystery. Inspired by famous women ballplayers, Q has joined the Loons baseball team and is anticipating a fun season practicing catching. Ray, however, is more interested in indoor pursuits, sharing his recent reading about forgery and fakes. This information comes in handy as the pair soon discovers that a valuable signed baseball has been stolen and a forgery left in its place. Stephen Shaskan’s panels are large and bright, focusing on the prominently displayed characters alongside uniformly stylized and easy-to-read speech bubbles. As they are constructed with blocky outlines and solid colors lacking detail, readers may find it difficult to discern exactly which mammals they are intended to depict. Although a stand-alone mystery, this new case does not rehash necessary details explained in earlier installments, which may be perplexing to series newcomers. Those familiar with the series, on the other hand, may notice that this volume follows an almost identical investigational path as its predecessor, reinforcing mystery conventions for young readers but perhaps causing more-seasoned ones to feel it is stale. This affable mystery is probably best for younger readers looking for more of a challenge than leveled readers provide.

Not perfect but a pleasant-enough caper that bridges a gap between leveled readers and chapter books. (Graphic mystery. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2644-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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