Author: Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Illustrator: Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Publication Date: May, 2013
GoodReads Summary: From the Files of the Platypus Police Squad - Case #1138 Detectives of record: Rick Zengo and Corey O'Malley
Case brief: A local schoolteacher is missing, and the only thing fishier than the circumstances surrounding his disappearance is the smell coming from the bag he left behind. All clues point to billionaire businessman Frank Pandini Jr.--but why would Pandini get his paws into the illegal fish trade?
What Kellee Thinks: Things I loved about this book:
-Cop show allusions ("This is the city. Kalamazoo City. Population: 75,000. By day, it's bright, vibrant metropolis, the kind of city where dreams come true. It is a mecca of business, the arts, sports, and cuisine, and, at the center of it all, the gleaming facade of Pandini Tower, the jewel of Kalamazoo City. Those who don't live here dream of making it here. And those who do, well, they know that there's just no city like it.
But it is a different city once the sun goes down. The criminal element, asleep by day, haunts certain dark corners at nigh. Especially the run-down old docks on the south side of town, perhaps the darkest corner of all." p. 1)
-Puns (specifically animal puns)
-The sly inclusion of forensics
-Jarrett Krosoczka's illustrations
-Um... Platypi are awesome! (Or is it platypuses just platypus?) Specifically Zengo and O'Malley who are the typical old cranky cop and young anxious rookie who team up together to fight the crime of Kalamazoo City.
-The mystery aspect which allows the reader to be part of the police squad and can make predictions about what the outcome will be.
What Jen Thinks: Sometimes books with animal characters makes me think too much about how possible would be it and things stand out to me more than with human characters. I must be developing as a reader because I didn't struggle with reading this book with animal characters as much as I have with other books in the past. Something about the way Jarrett wrote the characters made me feel so connected to them. I love Zengo and that there is so much more to him then it seems at first. He's actually a pretty complex platypus dude. I like how readers uncover more and more about him as the story goes on. I particularly love that he drinks hot chocolate every morning. Now there's a great visual: a platypus chilling at the breakfast table with his mug of hot chocolate. Gotta love it.
As layered as Zengo is, so is the plot of this story. Throughout the book there is a dark, creepy feeling of not knowing exactly what's going on or who exactly is up to no good. The reader definitely gets clues along the way but there are so many little pieces to tie together. Overall, it reminded me of great mystery movies or shows where even the innocent people had their own stories to tell in getting mixed up in everything.
I love the characterization in this book. Jarrett brings some amazing characters to life. I know I'm not supposed to like them, but Diaz and Lucinni cracked me up. They're just so ridiculous it's hysterical. I also really loved Peggy the secretary. She reminded me of Roz from Monsters Inc or Grandma Ethyl from the old show Dinosaurs.
When it comes to kids reading this book, I think the are really going to enjoy the characters and the mystery. I have a feeling they'll get caught up in the plot. I'm fairly confident they'll be calling for a sequel. I know I am! Bravo to Jarrett and his foray into middle grade non-graphic-novel novels! *applauds*
Read Together: Grades 4 - 6
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 6
Read With: Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander, Neversink by Barry Wolverton, Theordore Boone, Kid Lawyer by John Grisham, Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, A-Z Mysteries by Ron Roy, Big Splash by Jack Ferraiolo
Snatch of Text:
"He eyed the police-band radio and the dashboard like it was his birthday party right there in the car." (p. 27)
Mentor Text For: Puns, Making Predictions, Simile, Activating Background Knowledge, Visualization, Characterization, Dialogue, Making Inferences, Identifying Character Traits, Expository
Writing Prompts: Choose a character from Platypus Police Squad and then explain what you infer about his or her character traits with specific text evidence.
Topics Covered: Family, Friendship, Work Relationships, Adversity, Hard-Work, Determination, Trustworthy
We *Heart* It:
**Thank you to Walden Pond Press for sending us a copy for review!**