cover image The Lost Key: Manga Math Mysteries, Book 1

The Lost Key: Manga Math Mysteries, Book 1

Melinda Thielbar and Tintin Pantoja, Graphic Universe, $6.95 paper (48p) ISBN 978-0-7613-5244-0

Joy, Adam, Sam, and Amy attend a kung fu school where they learn to be smart, cool-headed, and honest. One weekend, the school master entrusts Joy with the key to the school. When Joy discovers that the key is stolen and the school is ransacked, she enters into a world of desperation as her teacher’s trust in her is compromised. The four students use addition, multiplication, and division to discover what they already know about the theft to move forward in their pursuit. However, the same repetitive math problems appear continuously throughout the text and the writing seems to be overly detailed when it could be easily minimized. Illustrations (minus speech balloons and text blocks) give readers clues to the solving of the mystery before the students at the kung fu school do. The artwork is manga-inspired with more American-style colors. While the book is best suited for higher level transitional readers, the plot comes across as one long drawn out math story problem. Ages 8–11. (Aug.)