The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo by Drew Weing. First Second, 2016. 9781626723399.
Charles and his parents have moved from a small town to Echo City, where they’ll live in the top-floor apartment of the building his dad is renovating. As awful as it is to Charles to have to be in a tiny room, in a busy and (he thinks) dangerous city, it’s terrifying when he finds that his building has a resident monster who peeks out of his closet and steals his stuff. Another kid in the building gives him a business card (don’t show any grown-ups) from Margo Maloo: Monster Mediator. Margo swoops in through Charles’ window and takes him down a hidden access shaft to a blocked-off hotel kitchen. There they find a troll (Margo knows him well, his name is Marcus) and he and Charles end up bonding over their respective collection of Battlebean toys. More adventures follow as Margo lets Charles tag along on her cases around the city.
Kid detectives were my favorite genre in elementary school and this brought back happy memories of free-range kids solving mysteries. This isn’t just a throwback, though, these are very modern kids. I especially liked Charles’ vague questions to his dad about monsters — he assumes Charles is talking about the problems of gentrification. And maybe he is, really, as many of the stories touch on the monster population (who have their own neighborhoods and grocery stores hidden within the city) being pushed out by humans wandering into their territory.
Don’t miss the endpapers that have a map of Echo City. You’ll recognize neighborhoods and streets named after your favorite cartoonists and children’s authors!