Drawn in bold black in white like a film noir version of a “Nancy” comic strip, Dickerman found a way to hook the reader with an early on “what the what???” moment involving honor student, Molly Thorne, who may or may not be losing her mind with visions of…monsters.
Enter Jimmy Brass, a pint-sized Sam Spade complete with a signature fedora and wisecracking inner monologue complete, Sherlockian methodology (with borrowed catch phrases ripped from Doyle’s own works). His skills remain unappreciated however, by his own over-enthusiastic “hired muscle,” bodyguard, and little sister, Opal. Brass suspects monsters may not be the trouble at all, but that something much bigger is behind Molly’s madness, which just happens to come only days before the big spelling bee. And, he is determined to crack the case.
This a great “read it together” choice for young readers and parents, as it has fast-tongued dialogue for kids with inside references for grown up movie and sci-fi buffs (the monster-hunting pair of thorns in Brass’s side bear a striking resemblance to a pair of UFO-hunting FBI agents from the 90s).
There were a couple of jewels of one-liners, too. My personal favorite being “Out of my way or my kindergartener will beat you” — a line I hope to use myself in the future.
The book had its kinks to work out, primarily in the design department. Most distracting was the use of heavy shadows and black background. I understood and appreciated the need for this effect, but they went a little over the top on the white text on black at times…that just gets uncomfortable to read when over used. Also, I’ve found in trying to keep the plot moving fast, the author missed some golden opportunities for deeper character development; something I’m hoping Dickerman plans on paying more attention to as the story unfolds in future issues.
I could tell the both Dickerman and Pruett were genuine fans of the mystery/detective genre, and this could be a great bridge getting kids into it as well. I also appreciated how well they were able to wrap up the immediate mystery at hand, as well as add a nice “cliff hanger” ending. With the tendency for young readers to have short attention spans, I feel these elements just might work together to keep them sleuthing along with Brass and Opal.
Now let’s see what my resident “young reader” Molly Kay Tate, age 10, had to say:
I really liked all of the book and I want to read it again. Jimmy reminded me of Sherlock Holmes in the way he acted and talked, so I recommend this book to my Dad and everyone else who likes Sherlock books and movies. My favorite character, though, was Opal because I thought she was really cool and funny.
I think the funniest part was when the Monster Squad was trying to stop Jimmy from entering the crime scene and he said he would have his kindergartener beat them if they didn’t let him by. I did want to learn more about the man with teddy bear at the end, though, but I guess I will have to wait until the next issue.
Honestly, there wasn’t anything at all I didn’t like about the story. I loved it.
Wow. There you have it, a pretty glowing review from one who knows her kids’ comics. Although I think the teddy bear at the end was really a honey badger, but you know, if Honey Badger don’t care, neither do I.