The game’s afoot (so to speak) for two amateur sleuths when slime monsters belonging to the school custodian go on a rampage.
Who let Gravelmuck Elementary’s hardworking (“Slime acid is perfect for getting dried troll boogers off drinking fountains”) if hazardous blobs loose? Seeing kindly old caretaker Thaxlin Snag dragged off to jail, fourth-graders Fizz Marlow and Tank Wrenchlin—a goblin and a troll, respectively—slide resolutely into an investigation of this obvious frame-up. Hints of major malfeasance in the works soon bubble into view as an exhibit of dragon treasures opens across the street from the school just as rumors surface that a gang of gremlin art thieves is in the area. Plopping a few red herrings into the stew along with lots of big, fat, obvious clues, O’Donnell rolls out a slick subterranean caper flavored with a diverse nonhuman cast, topped off with a suspenseful scramble. It’s all served up with a quivering dollop of complications related to the uneasy local détente between monsters, who are more comfortable with machines, and the dark mages of Slick City’s mysterious Shadow Tower. Deas’ frequent cartoon illustrations add zesty incidents and punch lines to the plot.
Young readers will slurp up the gumshoes’ gooey first exploit with relish. And perhaps a few choco-slug cookies. (Mystery/fantasy. 9-11)