cover image The Case of the Strange Splash (Detective Duck #1)

The Case of the Strange Splash (Detective Duck #1)

Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, illus. by Dan Santat. Amulet, $14.99 (80p) ISBN 978-1-4197-5513-2

Willow Feathers, a duck raised by a beaver, “loved to use her smart duck brain to solve problems” and believes that her curiosity will help her become a great detective. Her big chance comes in the form of a possible ecological disaster: a huge tire comes crashing into Dogwood Pond, which Santat (A First Time for Everything) renders in the style of the science fiction comics beloved by Willow’s salamander BFF Sal. “Don’t those humans care about how their trash harms our beautiful wilderness?” grumbles Harry the catfish. Willow deduces that the tire has been discarded from a human’s truck, then organizes Harry, her father, Aaron the heron, and Sal into a thrilling tire-removal operation, followed by a recycling lesson for the guilty human, portrayed with pale skin. Santat draws the quirky cast and their Leslie Knope–like leader with with oodles of affectionate exaggeration, and frequent collaborators Winkler and Oliver (Alien Superstar) give them lots of dad-joke–style dialogue (“Being ticklish is all in your mind,” Willow tells Aaron. “No it isn’t,” Aaron responds. “It’s under my wings”). With its promising, environmentally themed storytelling, this series starter is just ducky. Ages 6–9. (Oct.)