Sasspants is back! The reclusive, mystery-reading guinea pig is ready for another adventure, along with her sometimes friend, sometimes annoying sidekick Hamisher. In her fifth adventure, Mr. Venezi is taking lessons on how to identify animals from Viola. She hopes to earn enough money to purchase Janice, Clarisse, and Mr. Sparkles, the chinchillas and their pet mouse.
Being purchased is looking like a definite possibility and Sasspants is thinking having an owner might not be so bad after all. What kind of owner would she like? When her dream owner walks through the door, it looks like happily-ever-after…except that Hamisher has to be left behind. Not only Hamisher, but a mystery involving a missing cat, a reward, and a pet store full of would-be detectives is waiting back at the pet store. Will Sasspants be happy with a real detective owner and a home full of books, or is something missing? (Hint: It’s not just Tummytickles the cat!) The story finishes up with some fun nonfiction bonuses: Hamisher’s explanation of cats and some awesome real-life animal detectives.
Yue’s art is, as always, a joy. Full of visual jokes, delightfully fluffy animals, shocked guinea pigs, and goldfish wearing fedoras, it’s the perfect complement to Venable’s text. The story is a simple one about friendship, but the funny and touching details in the art add depth and plenty of giggles to the plot. The layout of this series is inspired. It’s small enough to make children feel like they’re reading a chapter book rather than a picture book, but the trim size is a nice large square with room for a clean, simple panel arrangement. The dialogue bubbles are easy to follow and have a large, readable font. I was delighted at how skillfully the author and illustrator grow their characters without taking them over the heads of their young audience or descending into clichés. Sasspants still mostly prefers a quiet life with her books, but she’s gotten interested in the mysteries around her as well, thanks to the bombastic Hamisher. His sense of drama has been toned down a bit, as he has to deal with being on his own for the first time, but he’s never down for long.
Funny, sweet, and adorable, but never overly cute, every library should have this series for their beginning readers. They are available only in paperback and library bound and I don’t often say this, but these are definitely worth the price of the library bound edition.
Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye, #5: Raining Cats and Detectives
by Colleen AF Venable
Art by Stephanie Yue
Lerner Graphic Universe, 2012