cover image Aven Green Sleuthing Machine (Aven Green #1)

Aven Green Sleuthing Machine (Aven Green #1)

Dusti Bowling, illus. by Gina Perry. Sterling, $12.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-4549-4221-4

In this prequel to Bowling’s middle grade Life of a Cactus novels, eight-year-old Aven Green, who was born without arms, doesn’t “solve mysteries like any old detective.” When a mysterious culprit starts stealing lunches and cafeteria food at her Kansas elementary school, Aven eagerly decides to solve the case. But the mysteries continue piling up: her great-grandmother’s dog, King Smith of Kansas City, or Smitty for short, goes missing, and a new girl named Sujata joins Aven’s third grade class and inexplicably appears unhappy. As the food crimes persist and Smitty remains absent, Aven begins to feel overwhelmed. But with the help of her family and a new friend, Aven discovers that the cases just might be connected. Bowling centers earnest Aven’s quirky wit, determination, and earnestness (“But you know one thing I’ve never read as being necessary to be a good P.I.? Having arms. That’s what”), introducing an exuberant adoptee whose disability does not exist to serve the plot. Perry’s b&w line illustrations feature supple-limbed, cartoon-style characters, including portrayals of Aven doing activities with her feet. Aven’s candid voice ensures that this chapter book series starter will draw a young audience. Ages 6–9. [em]Agent: Shannon Hassan, Marsal Lyon Literary. (Apr.) [/em]