A bowling tournament gives the rolling raconteur introduced in the 2003 picture book Arnie the Doughnut fresh scope for wisecracks and wild misadventures.
Arnie goes to the bowling alley weekly to meet his cheesy triangular friend Peezo and belt out hits (from “Livin’ la vi-DOUGH loca!” to “DOUGHNUT make my brown eyes blue”) at the karaoke machine for admiring crowds while his (human) buddy Mr. Bing hits the lanes. Their visits slide into a scurry of sleuthing when Mr. Bing’s new ball, Betsy, inexplicably starts heading for the gutter rather than the pins on every roll. Presented in a frenetic mix of narrative, cartoon collages, dialogue balloons and melodramatic exclamations, the investigation leads the chocolate-frosted shamus to an identity thief at the end of a trail of dropped sprinkles and other clues. Unsurprisingly, it also provides opportunities aplenty to drop punch lines as well as to lay out bowling techniques and rules with help from a confused baseball umpire (“Ya see, Ump, in baseball strikes are BAD, but in bowling they’re GOOD!”), Albert Einstein and other walk-ons.
Like triumphant Mr. Bing, Keller walks off with a “Stiffy Stu McShiny” award for this yummy chapter-book series opener. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)