A new chapter-book series about do-gooder thieves kicks off with a monkeynapping.
While most parents want their children to be law-abiding citizens, bacon-loving Billy Crook and his inventor twin sister, Jillian, are home-schooled by their professional thief parents to keep their covers safe and practice the skills of the “trade.” Billy’s easygoing, quick-paced narration describes the blunders he and Jillian face when they decide to secretly do good deeds. In their first “caper,” the twins go in disguise to a clean-up day at the zoo. When their parents follow them and steal a monkey in the process, Billy and Jillian attempt a series of unsuccessful yet humorous schemes to return the monkey without their parents’ knowledge. In the second, simultaneously publishing story, Dog Gone! (978-1-60684-397-0; 978-1-60684-510-3 paper), the pair faces a similar scenario when they decide to raise money for an animal shelter by earning the money through a bake sale. Once again, their parents steal an animal, this time Poochie Smoochie, the poodle star of a popular TV show. A concluding twist in the twins’ true identities saves the second volume from being just a rehash of the first and sets the scene for more titles.
Scrappy song lyrics, energetic illustrations and plenty of potty humor keep the hilarity high for reluctant readers. (Fiction. 7-9)