Hannah Sharpe, Cartoon Detective

Little, Brown/Christy Ottaviano. (Hannah Sharpe: Bk. 1). Sept. 2023. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316319805.
Gr 3-5–Dynamic duo Janet and Jake Tashjian (“My Life as a…”) return with a new middle grade series. Hannah is a pro at introductions. She is “eleven years old. [Lives] in Livermore, California. [Is] on the autism spectrum and sometimes [has] problems processing information. … [She] likes cowgirls, Pokémon, Disney, and drawing with [her] Pentel markers.” In their signature style, Janet writes and Jake illustrates Hannah’s story as she sleuths her way to solving a local crime spree while navigating the mire that is human communication. The prose is light, direct, and engaging. Full-page comic sequences break up the chapters while smaller illustrations pepper the text. Heartfelt creators’ notes further emphasize the book’s clear message that Hannah’s experience is not that of everyone who has ASD, representation is vital, and being autistic is not a bad thing! Hannah and her family have light skin; folks around town have various skin tones. Hannah’s teacher is queer. Neighbor Mr. Thompson uses a hearing aid. Hannah is a lovable, relatable protagonist, and readers can expect her to return for future adventures. Her story is a fun one and provides some clever lessons on life’s grey areas, which are universally frustrating (even if they manifest differently for all of us).
VERDICT Recommended as a general purchase.

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