That great body of literature known as the nursery rhyme is used as a fine tease here by Metzger; their intimations carry...

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DETECTIVE BLUE

Nursery noir.

That great body of literature known as the nursery rhyme is used as a fine tease here by Metzger; their intimations carry this humorous, simple detective caper along. The glimpses are just provocative enough to have young readers ask what an allusion means, whereupon adults can introduce the real, often surreal, deal. The tale has more meat on its bones than insinuations of the nursery, as well as being aided and abetted by Arnold’s illustrations, with their bold, black outlines and translucent blocks of color. It’s the story of Detective Blue (the kid formerly known as Little Boy—“At one time I blew a horn and looked after cows and sheep. That’s in the past!”) and his search for a missing person: Miss Muffet. Detective Blue affects a tough-egg attitude—Sergeant Friday in fairyland—though he is friend to all: Jack Horner, Jack Sprat, Bo Peep, Humpty (who gets a comradely pat on the back from Blue and takes a fall).

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-17286-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Counting has never been so mysterious or so much fun

7 ATE 9

Pun fun reigns over this fast-paced whodunit.

Private I of the Al F. Bet agency is at his desk when a frantic 6 races in. 7 is “after me,” declares the distressed numeral. Answers Private I: “Well, technically, he’s always after you.” The detective, narrating his caper noir-style, dons his fedora and follows the numbers. The case is solved when he upends the evidence and proclaims that 6 is really 9. This is followed by very humorous and slightly philosophical analysis of numerical significances. Is being in “seventh heaven” better than having “NINE lives!” or not? Lazar’s text is straight out of the classic detective genre, as are MacDonald’s illustrations, which are a mix of colored pencil, watercolor, and 19th-century wood type, all composed in Photoshop. The scenes are clearly set in an old-time Manhattan, with the office, streets, and harbor reimagining movie sets straight out of the 1930s and ’40s, albeit colorized. The oversized letters and numerals all have very entertaining faces and tiny protruding arms and legs that convey constant movement. The name of the detective agency is an adventure in pronunciation. Is it the English word “alphabet” or the Hebrew words for alphabet: “alef bet”?

Counting has never been so mysterious or so much fun . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1779-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Readers will enjoy watching this clueless detective get the “mane” job done in spite of himself.

AGENT LION

An inept lion detective searches for a missing cat.

After receiving his assignment from Ms. Chief (an elephant), Agent Lion takes two hours to reach the home of Fluffy’s owner, Ms. Flamingo. (A map tracking his route from his office shows stops at fast-food joints and entertainment venues. Readers will note the more direct path he could have followed had distractions not beckoned.) Arriving on the scene, Agent Lion asks Ms. Flamingo ludicrous questions and posits absurd theories; checks for clues in unlikely places, including the refrigerator; and wreaks havoc when interviewing neighbors throughout her building. As the self-absorbed, doughnut-loving gumshoe continues his ridiculous investigation, Ms. Flamingo, patience gone, declares the unsolved case over. Still, she invites Agent Lion back to her apartment for tea. Dejectedly arranging the couch’s pillows, Agent Lion finally—and unwittingly—locates Fluffy. All ends well as neighbors convene for a sweet celebration. This is a lightweight but humorous story; readers will chuckle at the silly questions Agent Lion asks and the witty, knowing comments he makes about cats. The ending, though predictable and unoriginal, satisfies. Lion is amusing; self-confident; and, as depicted in these delicate cartoon illustrations, very expressive, as are the other animal characters (including the beady-eyed pigeon Lion spies on a rooftop). Readers will also appreciate the endpapers’ displays of mouthwatering doughnuts.

Readers will enjoy watching this clueless detective get the “mane” job done in spite of himself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-286917-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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