Book Five of Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye
By Colleen A. F. Venable
Art by Stephanie Yue
Available now from Graphic Universe (Lerner)
You may recall that I bought the first three books in the Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye series at STAPLE! 2011. I stand by my assertion that Colleen A. F. Venable is a nice person and you should buy her stuff.
It's easy to say that because her stuff is good, because there is a large amount of crappy art made by nice people and then you sometimes feel guilty for not liking it. But this series is funny - from silly to sarcastic humor - and charming. It's about pocket pets who work as detectives, how can that premise not work?
In RAINING CATS AND DETECTIVES, Sassypants the guinea pig is finally sold now that the pet shop has halfway decent management. At first she likes her new home, with a human private eye, but soon she misses her old pals. Meanwhile, her assistant detective Hamisher the hamster tries to solve a case on his own: that of the disappearing bookstore cat! (You people know you love bookstore cats.) (I actually don't love bookstore cats because most of my family is allergic and I worry about tracking dander home.) (But I like the idea of fluffy animals in a bookstore in theory.)
You can probably guess how the story turns out, but the friendship and respect between Sassypants and Hamisher is authentic and sweet. Stephanie Yue's work helps sell the story. It's absolutely adorable, adds to the humor with sight gags, and the colors really pop off the page. The illustrations' energy plays off of and adds to Venable's smart script.
Older independent readers probably won't find much of interest in this series, as the stories are very short. But the books are plenty of fun to read to kids. And I suspect younger readers love this series. I certainly would have. My family always kept guinea pigs and I devoured any stories I could find involving them. RAINING CATS AND DETECTIVES would've had a place of honor on my bookshelf.