This book is a collection of ten mystery comic strips from Owl Magazine that involve Max Finder and his multicultural cast of friends and associates. There are also two short story mysteries. The comic strips are about four pages long, with a page at the end that describes how Max solves the mystery, reminiscent of Encyclopedia Brown. There is a section at the end on how to set up a mystery party, which is interesting! The mysteries are also similar to ones Encyclopedia might have solved; a toilet papering prank, a garden and a garage messed with, some stolen bikes.
Strengths: Anything in graphic novel format is a hot ticket in my library, and the mysteries in this series are short but interesting.
Weaknesses: This is another Canadian publication that makes me wonder if Canada is experiencing a paper shortage. The margins are tiny and the words are tiny, giving the format a very cramped feeling.
This is the first in a new middle grade series by Kim Harrington, who did the extremely popular YA series Clarity and Perception. Best friends Darcy and Norah have a class project requiring them to set up a pretend business. They decide to create a web site for a detective business, since the dark, edgy side appeals to the borderline Goth Darcy and the good girl Norah who likes to help people. Even though their web site is available only on the school Intranet, they get an e mail from someone asking for help locating her lost twin sister. It turns out that the fashionable Fiona has found a birth certificate for a baby named Bailey born the same day, so the girls do some sleuthing and turn up a lot of irregularities. Someone doesn't want them involved in the mystery, but they continue on despite the threats. Sleepover Stakeout (1 June 2012) and Framed and Dangerous (1 July 2012) are forthcoming.
Strengths: Norah and Darcy have distinct personalities but get along well. Most of their detective activities are very realistic, but more involved than solving missing bikes, which is good for middle school. Also, there is a little romance, and the very nice touch of the girls thinking Fiona is stuck up but becoming friends once they get to know her.
Weaknesses: The girls uncover a very big and rather dangerous secret that should result in Fiona moving, but the parents trust the girls to keep the secret, which seemed slightly unrealistic. Small thing, and I am very much looking forward to this series. Just really bummed that it's a Scholastic paperback series, which means waiting for the prebinds.
Because this blog is aimed at librarians and patrons of school libraries, I will not review books that are published solely in e-book formats or that are self published. Books should be available in hardcover or library binding through library suppliers such as Baker and Taylor or Follett. Books should fall within the target demographics of this blog.