If you lose your favorite necklace or your butler has been kidnapped, who do you call? Move over Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew, there’s a new detective duo in town, ready to take on any case. They are Simon and Chester, main characters in Cale Atkinson’s new graphic novel Simon and Chester: Super Detectives. Atkinson does double duty as writer and illustrator for this new series, combining his comic style with his humorous storytelling.
Chester is visiting his grandmother and his ghostly friend Simon who lives in her attic. As Simon is typing up his new mystery story, Chester is trying to get him to play, well, something. After going through some old clothes, the duo decide to open their own detective agency. They have their own uniforms, an office in an attic, note pads, and a bulletin board ready to be filled with clues. Now all they need is a case, which so happens to be in the kitchen. A mysterious dog has made himself at home, but neither Chester nor Simon knows who he is or where he came from. Will they figure out who owns this adorable pug and how he wound up in grandma’s house?
Simon and Chester know how to have fun using their imaginations, like all children do. They are ready and prepared for new adventures, even when it takes them into the real world. Children will find a bit of themselves in these characters, and perhaps try to expand their own imaginative playtime. Cale Atkinson uses classic noir and mystery tropes to add humor to his story, such as half-closed blinds and Simon wearing a Sherlock Holmes hat. His artwork style gives his characters their own personality, especially Simon, who shows a range of emotions from surprise to annoyance. As for Chester, he is a bright child who wants to do what’s right, but still have fun with his friend. With more focus on the characters then the background, readers will be drawn into the antics of the characters and their banter with each other.
With its playful storyline and charming characters, the first book in the Simon and Chester series is a good choice for readers in grades 2-4. Public and school librarians should consider this title a good choice for readers who are looking for something similar to other humorous graphic novels, such as the InvestiGators series or books written by Dav Pilkey. A second book in the series will be released later this year, continuing the adventures of this hilarious new duo.
Simon and Chester: Super Detectives
By Cale Atkinson
Tundra Books, 2021
Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9), Middle Grade (7-11)
Character Traits: African-American