Fans of the Chicagoland Detective Agency series have a problem. With each book, the plot gets more and more difficult to explain.
The science-fair projects at James A. Garfield Middle School include a jet pack and a robot that can bag groceries. The students have built every invention that was ever promised by the World’s Fair or The Jetsons. The graphic novel feels like a mashup of Hanna-Barbera cartoons and science-fiction comics and everything Robbins watched or read when she was growing up. It has a talking dog and a love potion and snippets of haiku. Some of the plot is borrowed, loosely, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as the title suggests: 13-1/2-year-old Megan drinks a potion and falls in love with the talking dog. A few readers will find this creepy, but anyone who grew up on Hanna-Barbera cartoons will think it’s perfectly normal. The author and the artist must have had a ball throwing new complications into the story, and Page has crammed every possible detail into the pictures of the science fair. The story gets more absurd with every page (by the last chapter, a character has turned into a cat), but the book is still a perfectly credible mystery with a very satisfying solution.
Don’t bother trying to explain it to your friends. Just tell them it’s hilarious. (Graphic mystery. 9-14)