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NANA CRACKS THE CASE! by Kathleen Lane


by Kathleen Lane and illustrated by Sarah Horne

Pub Date: April 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8118-6258-5
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Prone to seeking out odd jobs and getting fired from them, Nana is hired as a police detective in Crispy County. Nearby, her daughter Elaine lacks childcare but doesn’t trust Nana to look after her children, Eufala and Bog. A single mother (dad was kidnapped years earlier by an orangutan), Elaine locks the kids inside the house and heads off to work. Escaping easily, the children eventually join forces with Nana to track down a candy thief. This first novel quickly gets bogged down by the intrusive, wordy narration, full of cute asides. Consequently, the characters never come into focus, in text or illustrations. Even an absurd world must make its own kind of cockeyed sense, but this one is full of contradictions. Elaine, ridiculed as overprotective (having fired her babysitter for leaving nail scissors on the floor), blithely leaves the kids unattended all day. The efforts at postmodern humor à la Scieszka occasionally succeed, but can’t compensate for affectless characters and a senseless plot, making it all the more puzzling why separate credit is given for the story’s “concept.” (Fiction. 7-10)