cover image 7 Ate 9

7 Ate 9

Tara Lazar, illus. by Ross MacDonald. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4847-1779-0

Lazar’s (Normal Norman) hardboiled mystery is narrated by Private I, a pink capital letter who wears a striped tie and fedora, and gestures with white-gloved cartoon hands. His client is an agitated green number 6: “Word on the street is that 7 ate 9! And now he’s after me!” “Stay here. I’ll get to the root of this,” says I. “I hope so,” responds 6. “I fear my days are numbered.” MacDonald’s (Henry’s Hand) nostalgic artwork fits the noirish setup to a T (so to speak), and his chunky letters and numbers, created using 19th-century wood type, make for an eye-catching and highly appealing cast. His city streets feature brick storefronts and aerodynamically contoured automobiles, and a slice of pi costs $3.14 at the local diner. The solution to the mystery is pretty clever, the pace is brisk, and the arithmetic jokes approach infinity (“I knew about this 7 fella,” muses I. “He was odd”). Lazar’s numbers game stands up to repeat readalouds, which allow readers to review each groaner of a pun. Ages 3–5. [em]Author’s agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (May) [/em]