The Ferret's a Foot

Gr 2—4—This makes an amiable addition to the series. Guinea pig detective Sasspants and his manic hamster assistant, Hamisher, are among the animals living in absent-minded Mr. Venezi's pet shop. When Mr. V seeks help to run his business better, the animals get nervous—they don't want to be sold. While Pants and Hamisher try to keep the status quo, a vandal begins changing the signs on the animals' cages, making it more likely that Mr. V will hire someone. The guinea-pig detective and his partner are soon on the case, eventually discovering that not every animal is content with the pet shop as a permanent home. The mystery, while uncomplicated and dotted with humorous moments, still allows for some basic deductive reasoning as readers search for the culprit. Back matter includes more information on ferrets and a glossary of mystery terms. The soft-hued illustrations are crisp, giving off an animation look that's easy on the eyes. The panel layout is clear, but the repeated use of "talking head" close-ups does get a bit monotonous. It's unfortunate that the artist didn't break free of the grid for more wide-angle views to provide visual context. Kids who have a thing for pets (which is a sizable group) and a hankering for humor will likely take to this title.—Travis Jonker, Dorr Elementary School, MI
When the absentminded pet-store owner advertises for an assistant, Sasspants the guinea pig and Hamisher the hamster fix his mixed-up signs so he won't need help. The next day the signs have been vandalized, and Sasspants reluctantly plays detective again to solve the mystery. Although the illustrations in this short graphic novel are appealing, they don't compensate for the chaotic story line.
Kids will enjoy the funny mystery and the wordplay involved with the changed signs on the animals’ cages—Chinchillas become Godzillas, Finch becomes Grinch, and so on. The characters’ banter and twisted logic will delight readers. For example, when Hamisher is asked whether he is the culprit, he responds, “Nope! It can’ t be me because in the books, it’ s always the person you last suspect, and you just suspected me first, so it can’ t be me!” Stephanie Yue’ s illustrations create an inviting pet-shop world, full of expressive animals.

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