Do you have a child in your life who resists reading? Maybe they are challenged by reading or perhaps they’re a strong reader who would rather choose to do other activities in their free time. I have my own reluctant reader and I have found that when it comes to encouraging independent reading, nothing grabs his attention faster than a graphic novel.
Graphic novels seem to be everywhere right now and some are well done and others… aren’t. And some seem to fall somewhere in the middle. That’s where I would rate today’s entry, The InvestiGators by John Patrick Green. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not too picky when it comes to what my son wants to read. To me, it’s more about the act of and interest in, reading. So when it comes to story lines that others may consider to be ‘toilet humor’, I’m certainly no pearl clutcher. Silly sells, especially in the age group that I’m currently working with!
Parents who are familiar with the Dog Man series will recognize that The InvestiGators follows a very similar template, both in style (comic styling, bold colors) and story (zany characters who find themselves in unbelievable situations). You have a couple of animal characters of subpar intellect who have somehow stumbled into important careers that require them to solve serious crimes. In this case, we have two alligator investigators who have been dispatched to solve the disappearance of the world famous cupcake baker, Gustavo Mustachio. Brash is the more serious of the two, he has a secret that causes him to default to level headedness. However, he has been paired with Mango, who can’t resist shooting from the hip and is partial to cringe-worthy puns.
Their main mode of transportation is via a flushed toilet, which provides them with the ability to navigate the city’s sewer system unnoticed. This ability to blend in serves them well when they find themselves tasked not only with the solving of Mustachio’s disappearance but also a huge explosion at the Science Factory, caused when a cloaked figure delivers a giant birthday cake, baked at none other than Mustachio’s bakery! There’s no way these two plots aren’t related, right?!
Follow along with these bumbling but endearing reptiles as they go undercover as (quite untrained) bakers. Feel the feelings for Brash as he reveals the tragedy that befell his last partner. Scratch your head in confusion when you learn that Mustachio is being held in the sewer by a former crocodile named Daryl who is now a radioactive saltine cracker bent on revenge against the world. He insists that Mustachio use his special Super Dough to reinforce his weak saltine structure, which requires that he then be placed in the oven, giving Mustachio the opportunity to escape.
Ok, you know what? I’m going to stop my recap there because as the adult, you don’t really need to understand the plot line, the jokes or the character development arc. All you need to know is that The InvestiGators is a super silly book that will keep boys 8-10 independently entertained for up to 2 hours. My son read through it in 90 minutes without asking for a single snack. Those of you who have been home with your kids for months on end know what a miracle that is!
We have yet to read the two sequels but I’m sure they’re just as zany and irreverent as the original. I give The InvestiGators a thumbs up as a book for your kids to read on their own, while you enjoy the opportunity to read your own bestseller. Cheers!