A new chapter-book series for young mystery fans kicks off.
Wallace and Grace are partners in the Night Owl Detective Agency. Wallace is a fairly typical brown owl, but Grace is adorned with a shiny gold necklace and a red-and-white bow. “Grace liked to use big words.” Her vocabulary is extensive, including “quandary,” “investigate,” and “courageous,” and is explained in the text. Occasional puns may make adults groan, but kids will laugh: “Wallace and Grace always found out whooo-done-it!” Their first case involves Edgar the rabbit. He sees a ghost who makes spooky noises in the garden. The owls listen to his description, make notes, and hold a brief conference to decide whether to take the case. The two use their owlish abilities, things that Edgar can’t do, like spying things in the distance and twisting their heads around to look in both directions. They soon realize that the ghost is a sheet from the clothesline, stolen by Mother Cat to “keep her kittens cozy,” and the spooky noise is the mewing of the kittens. The mystery is simple, and the male and female partners invite interest across a broad readership. The language is accessible, and full-color cartoonish illustrations, created with pencil and Photoshop (a mix of whole-page and smaller vignettes), throughout the book are a change from many black-and-white chapter books.
Nick and Nora they’re not, but Wallace and Grace are a good team for the younger set. (Mystery. 6-8)