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)