Idioms get a run for their money in this good-humored and stimulating piece of wordplay from Nichols.
Nichols lays the figurative speech on thick in this mystery being tackled by the Gumshoe Zoo detective team, and he keeps the humor on high alert by using a team of animals as investigators. Animals, of course, are a favorite idiomatic tool, so apologies are flying as fast as the idioms: “Hmm...Yes. There’s something fishy going on around here. / Oh! No offense, Reggie,” says Quentin the goat. “None taken,” says Reggie the fish, adding, “There is some definite monkey business at hand, my friend. / Ooh. I didn’t mean anything by that, Steve,” says Reggie. “No sweat,” says Steve the monkey, adding, “And I agree. I smell a rat.” Nichols has illustrated the story in comic-book panels—some full-page, others with two or more a page—which gives the book both compression of language and expansion of story. The art itself is finely cartoony and as elemental as the periodic table. There are also zoomed-in panels that work a bit like a jigsaw puzzle to help readers determine if foul play is afoot. A concluding note provides further information, and it seems pretty natural that kids will want to learn something more about idioms from this first pleasing immersion.
Amusing to the point of provoking an inquiry. Really, it’s the bee’s knees. (Picture book. 5-8)