A quirky mystery that does not quite hit its mark.

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THE MONSTER SISTERS AND THE MYSTERY OF THE UNLOCKED CAVE

Two sisters try to solve the mystery behind monster attacks on their Canadian home.

In this graphic offering, siblings Enid Jupiter and Lyra Gotham’s beloved city of Victoria is plagued by such destructive creatures as a hairy squid, a giant yellow reptile, and mysterious Mirror Masons. Aided by a cache of clever mystery-solving tools, the girls swing around Vancouver Island on magical vines and find clues alongside interesting historical facts, as when Enid and Lyra see Gyro Park’s large statues roar to life while readers learn about the actual landmarks. This middle-grade graphic novel has expressive and bright illustrations, housed in large and tidy panels laid out with easy-to-read text bubbles. Gaudin offers what should be a fascinating mix of intriguing elements: imaginative monster battles, fun historical facts, a gently spooky mystery, and a warm emphasis on sisterhood. Unfortunately, it has an overall scattershot feel. The girls’ investigations lack clear endpoints, with one monster mystery tenuously dissolving into the next without any definitive resolution. Enid and Lyra both present white; there are few other human characters in their adventures, although the ones they encounter are exclusively white. While a nod is given to using the Indigenous names of British Columbia’s landmarks, no visual representations of these peoples are shown.

A quirky mystery that does not quite hit its mark. (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2226-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Silly and inventive fast-paced fun

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INVESTIGATORS

From the InvestiGators series , Vol. 1

A zippy graphic-novel series opener featuring two comically bumbling reptile detectives.

As agents of SUIT (Special Undercover Investigation Team) with customized VESTs (Very Exciting Spy Technology) boasting the latest gadgetry, the bright green InvestiGators Mango and Brash receive their newest assignment. The reptilian duo must go undercover at the Batter Down bakery to find missing mustachioed Chef Gustavo and his secret recipes. Before long, the pair find themselves embroiled in a strange and busy plot with a scientist chicken, a rabid were-helicopter, an escape-artist dinosaur, and radioactive cracker dough. Despite the great number of disparate threads, Green manages to tie up most neatly, leaving just enough intrigue for subsequent adventures. Nearly every panel has a joke, including puns (“gator done!”), poop jokes, and pop-culture references (eagle-eyed older readers will certainly pick up on the 1980s song references), promising to make even the most stone-faced readers dissolve into giggles. Green’s art is as vibrant as an overturned box of crayons and as highly spirited as a Saturday-morning cartoon. Fast pacing and imaginative plotting (smattered with an explosion here, a dance number there) propel the action through a whimsical world in which a diverse cast of humans live alongside anthropomorphized reptiles and dinosaurs. With its rampant good-natured goofiness and its unrelenting fizz and pep, this feels like a sugar rush manifested as a graphic novel.

Silly and inventive fast-paced fun . (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21995-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of...

HONEY

Melody Bishop's peaceful life with her widower father is upset when the annoying 6-year-old next door comes home from the beauty parlor with some gossip.

The 10-year-old has already noticed her father's increased distraction and a new tendency to whistle, so when Teeny Nelson reports that "Henry's been bitten by the love bug," Melody is avid to know more. With her best friend, biracial Nick Woo, at her side, she goes to the Bee Hive beauty salon to investigate. What she discovers there rocks her world not once but twice, as salon owner Bee-Bee has information about Melody's mother, who died in childbirth and about whom her father never speaks. Weeks gets the small moments right: Melody's exasperation with Teeny and the way it turns to sympathy when the little girl's mother threatens a spanking; her affectionate resignation when her grandfather, who has emphysema, sneaks out to the garage for a smoke. And Melody's close relationship with her loving father is sweetly evoked. But other elements fail to cohere. Obvious misdirection leads Melody to a critical misunderstanding that never amounts to more than a plot contrivance, and the mystical visions of Bee-Bee's dog, Mo, who has an unknown connection to Melody, strain credulity.

In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of nail-polish colors is somewhat amusing. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-46557-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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