cover image REX TABBY: Cat Detective

REX TABBY: Cat Detective

Daniel Kirk, . . Scholastic/Orchard, $9.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-439-45286-1

In this rather thin illustrated paper-over-board chapter book, cat cop Rex Tabby pursues smalltime crooks in Whiskerville, U.S.A. With his undersize sidekick Si Meeze and a knock-knock-joke-cracking policewoman named Frankie Fluff, square-jawed Rex busts the criminal Ma Manx as she pulls a fish heist. But he doesn't corral her kittens, Rumpy and Stumpy Manx, who command an arsenal of magic-shop hot-pepper gum and itching powder. The delinquents, pictured in jailbird-to-be striped shirts and short pants, masquerade as ordinary citizens to evade detection: "Without these dumb burglar masks, everybody will think we're just a cute pair of kittens," Rumpy says, removing her black-mask "disguise." Rex nabs the Manxes, but not before some attempts at Dav Pilkey–esque wordplay (e.g., a video game involving "Sir Loin and his dripping doodie-dogs of Andromeda") and a gratuitous gas-passing incident. Kirk (Go! ) supplies plentiful grayscale cartoons and concludes chapters with quizzes on "cop slang" and "how to tell if somebody is telling you a big fat lie!" Unfortunately, creaky humor, cops-and- robbers shtick and numerous production errors (inaccurate he/she pronouns, Rumpy called Bumpy, etc.) bog down this enterprise. All ages. (July)