Recommended for ages 8-12
In the first installment of a new mystery teamup, Pops and Branwell – two orphans in an orphanage that’s a cover for a full-scale detective operation run by kids – take on their first mystery: who killed Branwell’s parents, and what does her Uncle Lamb know?
This is an all-ages graphic novel that’s too much fun; taking on the hard-boiled detective genre with kids. Branwell is the new kid, the only survivor of the fire that destroyed her life. “Pops” is the seasoned detective that takes her under her wing, with a smart comment and nickname for everyone around her. (My favorite was “Sylvia Plath” for the disconsolate Branwell.) Being assigned the new girl doesn’t sit right with Pops, who prefers to work alone, but it creates a hilarious relationship between polar opposites. The supporting cast includes a nun who wonderfully apes the frustrated boss, and a John Watson-type fangirl, who writes fanfiction adventures where she inserts herself and a “hot guy” into the detectives’ adventures. The conclusion is laugh-out-loud hilarious, and the ending left me happily waiting for another installment.
Booktalk this with your Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Encyclopedia Brown series. It would also work nicely with the Series of Unfortunate Events, which is getting renewed interest thanks to the Netflix series. Display with any Adventure Time graphic novels you have around; artist Aleks Senwald is a writer and storyboard artist for the series.