I Really Dig Pizza! A Mystery! (Archie & Reddie #1)

Candy James. Razorbill, $10.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-593-35010-2
This early reader graphic novel—the first in a series—marks the debut of Candy James, pen name for a married author-illustrator team. The story centers on animal best friends Archie, who resembles a fluffy, long-tailed lamb, and Reddie, a jaunty red fox who sports a bow and trousers (the characters, back matter notes, are based on stuffies belonging to the creators’ children). Archie finds a box of pizza with a red bow on top and, with a conspiratorial wink to the reader (“Ssh...You didn’t see anything”), reappears with a bulldozer, to hide the treasure: “Driving a digger!/ Driving a digger!/ Gonna pile/ up some dirt/ to bury my dinner!” The subterfuge unravels when Reddie discovers the dirt mound and becomes a tenacious detective; rather than fessing up as the clues mount, Archie offers a flurry of funny fibs and misdirections (the tire tracks Reddie spots are “snake trails... from a snake!”). Though Archie never confesses, pizza satiety is achieved when Reddie reveals that the pie was a gift intended for Archie all along. Tightly framed, single-plane drawings, drawn with bold black outlines and an offbeat palette of orange, yellow, and brown, offer plenty of perky graphic pop, and the characters have an eager-eyed expressiveness, snappy dialogue, and bouncy physicality that will pull new readers along. Publishing simultaneously: We Will Find Your Hat!: A Conundrum! Ages 4–8. Agent: Gemma Cooper, the Bent Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 10/06/2021
Release date: 09/14/2021
Genre: Children's
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