A light-hearted graphic novel for intermediate readers squelches onto the scene with the first book of Finder’s Creatures.
Finder, a red-haired frog in 2nd grade, lives in Belly Acre Bog, with her best friends Keeper, a shy turtle and Chopper, a taco-loving beaver. Inspired by her hero, the detective toad Mr. Seymour Warts, she has opened her own detective agency, Finder’s Creatures, and it’s not long before their first case comes along. Finder wakes up one morning to discover that everyone is gone, but her and her friends! They investigate and discover some mysterious green goo, a few feathers, and, eventually, a terrifying monster! While Finder and her friends are tracking down the missing swamp creatures, Seymour Warts ranges farther afield, following the clues of C.R.O.A.K., an evil organization that kidnaps animals. But are they responsible for the missing bog dwellers? Where did the green goo monster come from? And will Chopper and Keeper ever build a trap that works?
The portion of the story that features Finder and her friends is all drawn in hues of green and brown with pink splashes introduced when the Perfectly Pink factory, run by pigs, comes into play. Each animal has their own secondary color as well, with orange hair for Finder, blue shirt and flying water droplets for Chopper, and orange speech bubbles for Keeper that match her orange-ringed eyes. Meanwhile, Seymour Warts’ investigations, with his sidekick Toady, are drawn in black and white, giving the distinct impression of an old-time film and building on the resemblance to Sherlock Holmes. All the art is drawn with sharp angles, geometrical shapes, and many odd perspectives. There are thick black lines, which can sometimes obscure the actual comic art, but the differently-colored speech bubbles is a nice touch to help readers keep track of who is talking
This had a somewhat unexpected ending; from the publisher’s description (and the general tropes of this kind of story) I was expecting Finder to be the one who solved the mystery while Seymour Warts turned out to be all talk, but there turned out to be mysteries enough for everyone to solve! The text is fairly simple and seems to be aimed at a younger audience, but there is a lot of wordplay and references to things like the Sherlock Holmes canon that are unlikely to be picked up by younger readers. This might be a fun addition if you have a lot of younger readers of graphic novels, and especially if you have families who like to read together. Otherwise, if you’re just looking for funny swamp-themed mysteries, stick with Paige Braddock’s STEM-themed Stinky Cecil trilogy.
Bog Gone! Vol. 1
By P. Knuckle Jones
Penguin Workshop, 2023
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9), Middle Grade (7-11)