Written & Illustrated By Travis Nichols
Chronicle Books 8/04/2015
40 pages Age 7—12
“Just what kind of monkey business has befallen Mr. Hound’s shop? Who has broken his window? And most importantly: why?
“Luckily, our team of plucky detectives has been chomping at the bit to take on their first case. When Mr. Hound hires them to investigate, they hoof it to his shop. And once they get sleuthing, wild horses couldn’t drag them away from the scent of a clue. But is it all just a dog and pony show to distract them from the truth
“Idioms are everywhere in the Gumshoe Zoo detective agency’s hilarious first case as they attempt to get to the bottom of Mr. Hound’s mystery.” [inside jacket]
The Gumshoe Zoo Detective Agency has finally received their first case: someone has broken Mr. Hound’s shop window. But why? Each member of the detective agency is on the case, each having something to say:
“Hmm . . . Yes. There’s something fishy going on around here.”
This is said by Quentin, a goat. All of the Gumshoe Zoo detectives are animals. But Quentin’s fishy statement was overheard by Reggie, who happens to be a fish. Quentin quickly saves face.
“”Oh! No offense, Reggie.”
“None taken. But you are right. There is some definite monkey business at hand, my friend.”
Reggie agrees with Quentin, but makes his assessment within earshot of Steve, a monkey. And so it goes through the line-up of detectives, each one making a clichéd remark that indicts a fellow detective, yet none take offense at the off-handed remarks. The detectives are too glued to the case to become offended at these idioms. Then a clue is found that opens up the case and makes an unexpected turn. The detectives are not confused. They immediately figure out what happened at Mr. Hound’s shop. They quickly deduce who threw a can of tomatoes through the shop window. The answer is not a pretty picture.
Fowl Play is the first of a series that will have children quickly understanding parts of speech, such as the idioms used in Mr. Hound’s case of the broken window. The story is hilarious, not just because of the witty idioms, but also because the comic book illustrations are terrific. Fowl Play is one unusual book but it does its job. Teachers will have loads of fun integrating this series into their lesson plans. Kids will love the humor and the illustrations of the detectives.
The Gumshoe Zoo detectives are: Josie (a rat), Morgan (a chicken), Sharon (a duck), and Mike (a bull), in addition to the detectives referenced above. Of course, the victim, Mr. Hound, is a dog. The case does not end as one would expect. In the middle of an interview for W-IDM Channel 4, an urgent situation develops downtown . The Mayor, a cat, wants the Gumshoe Zoo detectives on the case. This case will not be as easy as Fowl Play and Mr. Hound’s idiom filled broken window. According to the final page, this case will be a “beast of oxymoronic proportions.” This is one case I am anxious to read and one new series I think will be an educational blast.
After the Fowl Play mystery is solved, the definition of “idioms” and the meaning of each idiom used in the story is given in a mish-mash style perfect for this comically fowl story. This section is worth reading for the humor and the explanations. Kids will love the references and may just find themselves using an idiom or two in their speech.
Fowl Play is No Sweat for this Author!
FOWL PLAY. Text & illustrations copyright © 2015 by Travis Nichols. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Mighty Media Kids, an imprint of Mighty Media Press, Minneapolis, MN.
Learn more about Fowl Play HERE.
ALSO BY TRAVIS NICHOLS
Monstrous Fun: A Doodle and Activity Book
Uglydoll: My Hero?
The Totally Awesome Book of Useless Information
. . . any many more
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Full Disclosure: Fowl Play by Travis Nichols, and received from Chronicle Books, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”