Cybils Award nominees I've been reading.
The 3-2-3 Detective Agency: The Disappearance of Dave Warthog by Fiona Robinson. 2009, 73 pgs, Age 7+ - A delightful mystery story about a group of animals who meet on the 3:23 train to Whiska City where they decide to open up a detective agency together. Upon placing an advertisement in the paper they receive several clients reporting missing persons and finally the mayor shows up to report the entire police force missing. The new detectives are on the case and find all disappearances lead to one place! The characters are delightful from Slingshot the overactive Sloth to Roger the dung beetle with a taste for gourmet cooking. The mystery is a fun one that kids will love and the book is full of humour. The illustration style is bright and detailed. The only issue I may have with the book is that the frames could be a little over busy and crowded and the text is on the small size. This could have been solved by producing a larger format book. Otherwise a very fun, enjoyable book that kids will love and hopefully we will see the 3-2-3 Detective Agency in further adventures to come. 4/5
Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones: Girl Genius Book 8 by Phil & Kaja Foglio. May 2009, 144 pgs, Ages 15+ - This is a tough book to give a fair review since as a Cybils nominee I've had to jump in with book 8. There is a lot going on, a back story I have no idea about, but what I can tell is that this steampunk comic is one I want to start from the beginning and read. The art is bright, humourous, with over dramatic facial expressions and very buxom women. While I had no idea of the whole general plot, even with the quick "The Story So Far" write up at the front of the book, I did grasp the mini plot of this volume in particular and thought it was a splendidly unique world of an heiress trying to reclaim her castle, which is alive, in a world full of living machines and flying airships. I plan on starting with book 1 and will re-read this and probably re-review it when I get to it in it's chronological order. Beautiful artwork and a tempting glimpse into an intriguing series that I most certainly will be reading. 3.5/5
Adventures in Cartooning by James Strum, Andrew Arnold & Alexis Frederick-Frost. Apr. 2009, 109 pgs, 8+ - A delightful book that tells a story of a knight who wants to fight a dragon, so off he goes on his adventure but along the way a Magic Elf accompanies him and teaches him the art of cartooning. Illustrations are drawn in Ed Emberley style and Ed is given a nod for his inspiration at the back where instructions on how to draw the knight, elf and horse are given. Throughout the book cartooning lingo is introduced and the aspects that make up a comic: panels, bubbles, sound effects, etc. All within the confines of a delightful, humourous story. A very unique book which will bring out the cartoonist in any aspiring artist who may feel overwhelmed at getting started. An actual child's example is shown at the back of the book. Highly recommended. 5/5
Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala. Sep. 2009, 126 pgs, 12+ - What a devilishly divine caper! K. has been raised in an orphanage by a wicked woman who has trained the children to be master thieves and pickpockets when one day she receives a call from a long lost aunt to come live with her at a rundown boarding school. K arrives and meets 3 other girls who seem to come from similar circumstances as her and the teens are encouraged to continue their thievery working for a secret organization. I loved this book! The story is fast-paced, a little over-the-top at times but so much fun it's forgivable. A spooky atmosphere, people who go missing, strange voices in the night and a spunky heroine who isn't about to believe any old line make this a can't put down read. The ending leaves many questions unanswered and while it is a satisfying ending one can't help but think that a sequel is planned. Mystery fans will love this, especially girls. 4.5/5