cover image Spider Kane and the Mystery Under the May-Apple

Spider Kane and the Mystery Under the May-Apple

Mary Pope Osborne, Victoria Chess, Mary P. Csborne. Random House Books for Young Readers, $3.99 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-679-80855-8

This slender and ultimately unsatisfying mystery concerns the insect inhabitants of Cottage Garden, chief among them Leon Leafwing, an earnest bug whose infatuation with a beautiful and inexplicably vanished butterfly fuels the plot. Led by more experienced adventurers, Leon sets out to rescue Mimi from her alleged kidnapper, the evil Emperor Moth. But after an entertaining ramble to the Dark Swamp--the book's high point in terms of suspense, following a slow start--Leon learns that the kidnapping was staged, the Emperor Moth merely invented,stet comma and the expedition mounted only to test his mettle for prospective membership in a sort of good-citizens' band. Though Leon recovers from his disappointment, the reader is left feeling let down and cheated. Chess's antic drawings--her eccentricity shines through even in black-and-white--are the highlight of this overly silly, insubstantial story, whose ``mystery'' evaporates before the end. Ages 6-12. (Apr.)