Like I Need a Reason to Crave Asian Style Pastry

Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong by A.J. Low. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2016. 9781449477899.

sherlocksamElementary-aged, Singaporean amateur sleuth Sherlock Sam (real name: Samuel Tan Cher Lock) teams up with his sister, his cousin, and his snarky robot Watson to solve the mystery of his Auntie’s missing heirloom cookbook. Sherlock Sam is earnest, he learned all about problem-solving from Logicomix, he’s annoyed that adults keep pinching his chubby cheeks, and he’s motivated by food. This book made me hungry: it’s packed full of Singaporean delicacies (Sherlock Sam’s love of his Auntie’s ayam buah keluak is the main reason he wants to solve the case quickly).

This is an illustrated chapter book (though Andrews McMeel’s AMP! Kids imprint is known for graphic novels) with delightful black and white spot illustrations by Andrew Tan.

You can take the boy out of the cave but you can’t…

Caveboy Dave Book 1: More Scrawny Than Brawny by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Phil McAndrew. Viking, 2016. 9780147516589.

caveboy-dave-1Dave Unga Bunga wanted to invent something that everyone needs, like his grandfather (fire) and father (the wheel) did, but his stick-like “forfood” was a little ahead of its time. He thinks that maybe he should just become a hunter. But his teacher, Mr. Gronk, is unimpressed by his “running away from your prey like a terrified chipmunk” technique. This is a problem because Dave’s Baby-Go-Boom ritual is tomorrow. If he can’t invent something impressive overnight, he will have to venture into the wild with four friends. There they’ll need to hunt and kill one of the deadly and delicious animals known as The Big Six: a slothopod, a pokeyhorn, a flying rippy-beak, a giant blobby-good, a slugosaurus, or a stabby cat. If they can’t come back with meat for their tribe, they can’t come back at all. Ever.

I know that all sounds very threatening, but it’s really not. Dave is hilarious, and so are his inventions. McAndrew draws him like a completely well-meaning goober. In fact I love everything about the character and creature designs in this book, though my favorites things are the fake animals Mr. Gronk uses to train the kids (with limited success).

This graphic novel would be a fun and logical next step, reading level-wise, from Captain Underpants, and it won’t bore fun-loving grownups who read it aloud or read along.