The Missing Mola Lisa

illus. by Stephen Shaskan. 48p. Graphic Universe. Sept. 2017. Tr $26.65. ISBN 9781512411478; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781512454147.
Gr 2–4—Quillan, a hedgehog, and her best friend Ray, a rat, are second graders at Elm Tree Elementary School. Ray enjoys magic, and Quillan adores disguises, but what they both love best is solving mysteries. When Leonardo da Squinty's famous Mola Lisa is stolen during a class trip to the local art museum, Quillan and Ray attempt to recover the painting and apprehend the thief. This is a funny, action-packed mystery, divided into short chapters that move the narrative along quickly. The characters are quirky and amusing, but the art style is unappealing and childish. The vocabulary is appropriate for the intended audience, but the images will appeal more to preschoolers than to elementary schoolers. The brightly colored illustrations are cartoonish, and characters are outlined in thick black ink, with very little expression. Backgrounds are extremely minimal, and shading is nonexistent. The speech balloons are also unsightly, stacked on top of one another for ease of reading without any thought to the overall look of the panels.
VERDICT Skip this title and instead hand chapter book readers looking for mysteries the "Boxcar Children Graphic Novels."

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