Hand’s (Mineral Mischief, 2011, etc.) entertaining third installment in the author’s mystery/educational children’s series starring a squirrel and duck detective team, Joe-Joe Nut & Biscuit Bill.
The elementary school at Acorn Valley holds an art fundraiser to help local animals whose homes were lost due to natural disasters. Four famous local artists—Claude Monet Mongoose, Georgia O’Giraffe, Vincent Van Goat and Pablo Picasso Peacock—have generously donated their weather-themed paintings for a charity auction. But a monkey wrench is thrown into the proceedings when distinguished Gila monster Dr. Ced E. Meant discovers, in a presentation at the Metropolitan Museum before the event, that his invaluable research has been stolen! His findings are so important that they cannot be leaked to the world at large! Meanwhile, more mysterious and fishy things are going on at the art auction, which Detectives Nut and Bill are determined to unravel. Geared for older children (and appealing enough for adults), this third entry in the series once again paints a delightful world of animal protagonists—teachers, scientists, etc.—using colorful illustrations with the lively black-and-white cartoons of Karwoski. Each of the animals—garbed like humans—has personality to spare, and they make amusing references to bills, hooves and tails. A genuinely crafty, complex mystery (including secret panels, art theft and characters who aren’t as they appear) combines seamlessly with info about weather and art. Hand’s first entry in the series, The Great Pie Catastrophe, won Creative Child Magazine’s 2010 Seal of Excellence Award. With so much to recommend this entry and a rich presentation, the only quibble is the occasional typo or punctuation gaffe. A glossary of weather terminology, artist bios and activities for kids are included.
An engaging and delicious mystery/educational series with a fun pair of animal detectives and several well-crafted storylines.