cover image Shark Detective!

Shark Detective!

Jessica Olien. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-235714-4

Cartoonist/journalist Olien debuts with the story of a lonely, city-dwelling shark hero who is desperate to live out his Sherlock Holmes fantasies. A “Missing Kitty” poster provides the magic opportunity, and while he has little luck interviewing potential witnesses (they tend to run away, screaming “Don’t eat me!”), he eventually finds the cat—as well as the cat’s missing mousey toy, a loving new home, and a sleuthing partner. Olien’s narration is oddly flat and literal given the story’s atmospheric potential, and the ending feels rushed and overstuffed with incident. But she has a fine sense of the visual tropes of procedurals, film noirs, and psychological thrillers, and her compositional repertoire shows plenty of promise for stories to come. And snaggletooth, google-eyed Shark is an endearing goofball worth rooting for—readers first see him in his hotel room, wearing a nightcap on his head and bunny slippers on his fins, and scarfing down potato chips—and Olien’s equally quirky premise delivers a steady stream of laughs. Ages 4–8. Agent: Brianne Johnson, Writers House. (Sept.)