Neil deGrasse Tyson might not be flattered to discover that he is one of the chief suspects in this graphic mystery.
The mystery revolves around the theft of a meteorite. Because all the characters in the book are animals, the astronomer appears as Neal D. Grass Bison. It’s a pun worthy of the old Flintstones cartoons, which had guest appearances by Stony Curtis and Gina Lollabrickida. It’s also, unfortunately, the funniest joke in the book. The other animals have blander names, such as Mr. Shrew and Frank Ferret. But the story, filled with details about the market for fake meteorites, is so oddball it’s endearing. It could use a bit more tension, however, because the identity of the thief seems clear early in the book. The plot also stretches credibility. When the main characters—two student detectives—wander around the science center asking questions, the suspects all gamely answer them rather than simply refuse to be interrogated by a pair of children. But the many facts about meteorites will appeal to young astronomers, and the line drawings are charming in their own, unsubtle way. They look, somehow, like a mashup of clip art with John Lennon’s scribbled drawings.
Tyson may not be thrilled with this book, and mystery fans may be underwhelmed, but a good bison pun can redeem almost anything. (Graphic mystery. 6-12)