cover image Gus & Gertie and the Missing Pearl

Gus & Gertie and the Missing Pearl

Joan Lowery Nixon, Chronicle Books, J. L. Nixon. Chronicle Books, $14.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-1-58717-022-5

Spirited alliteration and humorous illustrations propel this fast-paced beginning-reader whodunit. When Gus and Gertie, a pair of traveling penguins, hop off the ferryboat for their island vacation at the elegant Hotel de View, a sudden rain forces them into the nearby ""Otel,"" Home of the Bad Guys Club. Inside, ""rascally rowdies, wretched wharf rats, riffraff, and ruffians shouted and argued, pushed and shoved, and created a horrible hullabaloo."" To ""show them we're friendly,"" Gus begins snapping Polaroids of the proceedings. DeGroat's watercolors not only capture the juxtaposition of the conservative couple and the ""scummiest swarm of seagoing scallywags,"" but after the disappearance of Gertie's ""beautiful, valuable deep-sea pearl"" necklace, her clever renderings of Gus's photos provide a trail to the thief. Although the scallywags ultimately help in the pursuit of the culprit, Gus and Gertie's wholehearted embrace of the bad guys (who after all collaborated in lifting her jewel) is abrupt. Still, one can hardly blame the couple: the Bad Guys look like much more fun than obtuse Gus and Gertie. Ages 6-9. (Sept.)