More Scooby Doo Than Nancy Drew

Did you miss the May issue of School Library Journal? Don’t worry, here’s a recap of the Graphic Universe titles that were profiled.

The Ferret’s a Foot
by Colleen AF Venable, illustrated by Stephanie Yue

This makes an amiable addition to the series. Guinea pig detective Sasspants and his manic hamster assistant, Hamisher, are among the animals living in absent-minded Mr. Venezi’s pet shop. When Mr. V seeks help to run his business better, the animals get nervous–they don’t want to be sold. While Pants and Hamisher try to keep the status quo, a vandal begins changing the signs on the animals’ cages, making it more likely that Mr. V will hire someone. The guinea-pig detective and his partner are soon on the case, eventually discovering that not every animal is content with the pet shop as a permanent home. The mystery, while uncomplicated and dotted with humorous moments, still allows for some basic deductive reasoning as readers search for the culprit. Back matter includes more information on ferrets and a glossary of mystery terms. The soft-hued illustrations are crisp, giving off an animation look that’s easy on the eyes. The panel layout is clear, but the repeated use of “talking head” close-ups does get a bit monotonous. It’s unfortunate that the artist didn’t break free of the grid for more wide-angle views to provide visual context. Kids who have a thing for pets (which is a sizable group) and a hankering for humor will likely take to this title.

–Travis Jonker, Dorr Elementary School, MI

The Maltese Mummy
by Trina Robbins, illustrated by Tyler Page

If Rob Reger’s Emily the Strange accessorized, swept her bangs to the side, and got an extra-strength dose of perkiness, she would be very much like Megan Yamamura, one of the partners in the Chicagoland Detective Agency. Megan’s adventures with Raf and his talking dog, Bradley, continue in this installment when a teen rock idol has a suspicious connection to a mummy at the museum’s ancient Egyptian exhibition. While the characters are in high school and the black-and-white artwork at first glance seems to lean toward edgier fare, the Goth look is actually cheerful and supports the juvenile humor quite well. Examples of tween-centric touches include Bradley collapsing a dinosaur skeleton because he cannot resist a bone, riffs on Humphrey Bogart-inspired film noir, obvious red herrings, and an easily recognizable villain from the previous book. Those who want plots that are more Scooby Doo than Nancy Drew will enjoy this silly romp of a mystery.

–Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library