The Mysterious Abductions

illus. by Kate Liebman. 232p. (The Nocturnals: Bk. 1). ebook available. Fabled Films. Apr. 2016. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781944020002.
Gr 4–6—Strange occurrences are happening in the Valley. Each night, a different animal vanishes. First it was kiwis and jerboas; now wombats and even coyotes are disappearing. Three unlikely animals form the Nocturnals, a brigade determined to track down the source of the "nappings." Dawn the fox, Tobin the pangolin, and Bismark the sugar glider use their evolutionary advantages and natural pluck to muster their fellow nocturnal animals together and confront the threat. The discovery of hieroglyphics depicting all the missing animals reveals that the abductions are more widespread than originally thought. Specific animals are being targeted, but why and to what end? When one of the Nocturnals gets snatched, the team must descend into a cave to free their friend. In this anthropomorphized animal mystery, readers are taken on a journey with Australia's mammals. Each chapter opens with a color illustration. These delightful pictures help to ground a North American audience in a foreign environment. The banter of the pompous and loquacious sugar glider provides laughs; unfortunately, the other characters are underdeveloped. Instead of establishing traditional mystery elements like discovering clues or encountering red herrings, the story focuses on displaying the natural defenses of each animal. Since there is no opportunity to speculate or make predictions, the suspense never builds.
VERDICT A pass for all but the most dedicated lovers of Australian animals.

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