Note: I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If you’re looking for trouble, you’ve found it. The name’s Jake G. Panda, and trouble seems to follow me wherever I go. I work in the protection racket at a flophouse for endangered critters called the Last Resort. I’m the hotel snoop. The resident fuzz. It’s my job to keep these guests safe and outta harm’s way. This is the first of my many misadventures. A wild and woolly mystery involving a lost suitcase, a green bird, and a bunch of double-crossing animals. I’m calling this jungle noir The Case of the Cursed Dodo. This hilarious first installment of The Endangered Files follows Jake, a hardboiled panda detective, and an unusual cast of endangered creatures on a globe-trotting adventure that will appeal to young and old alike. (Summary via Amazon.com)
Everything about this book is just adorable. You can’t see it well in the picture, but even the cover and spine have (fake) worn edges and creases, as if this book has been well loved. The book itself is wonderful, too. It’s about a panda who’s a hard-boiled PI, helping out other endangered animals in a way that is neither cutesy nor preachy. In The Case of the Cursed Dodo, Jake goes on a misadventure across the globe to chase down a mysterious green bird. He comes across many animals along the way–some who want to help and others ready to sell him out.
The book is written like a screenplay, which is a really fun and unusual technique–I don’t think I’ve ever read another book written that way. It’s also full of tropes (in a good way) from noir books and movies. This gives Jake a great voice (including, yes, voice-overs!) as well.
In addition to all this, there are drawings of the characters, and get this–they’re not cartoony! (Yes, this is important to me…) The animals are all drawn (at least mostly) true to life, and as an avowed hater of cutesy animal stories (with a few notable exceptions), I was really glad to see this realism.
Basically, I loved this book from the moment I got it, and the story was super fun as well. Any kid (or adult!) who’s looking for a fast-paced mystery with a quirky style and fun animal characters will love this. I look forward to reading the next book in this series!
Rating: Re-read Worthy