Woolly Family Studios, 2014. 978-0990939115
Synopsis: Being endangered is a lot more dangerous than it seems, especially when trouble seems to find you at every turn. Take it from Jake G. Panda. He’s a panda that works as a detective for the Last Resort, a haven for endangered critters all over the world. His first of many adventures involves a kidnapped hare, a missing suitcase, a mysterious green bird, and a bunch of double-crossing animals that only the most hard-boiled of detectives could handle.
Why I picked it up: I was contacted by Jake G. Panda (the first email I’ve ever received from a bear), who inquired whether I would be interested in a new breed of literature.
Why I finished it: This book follows in the Noir tradition of the old fifties and sixties detective stories: a hard-boiled detective who seems to attract trouble, a shady trouble maker that lurks in the shadows, a dame that reappears after an extended absence, and multiple sidekicks that help our detective put all of the clues together to solve the case. Jake G. Panda is a Humphrey Bogart for the younger generation, hardened by years of crime solving and youthful ‘mistakes’, dedicated to justice and keeping his bamboo plant watered. The ‘file’ reads much like a screenplay, which was a clever way to set up the story because it gives the reader a chance to metaphorically see the plot unfold. We’re walking with Jake G. Panda as he searches through the deserts to find his missing friend. We can easily visualize the jungle where he makes his home along with a colorful cast of endangered characters. Some of the species were not immediately recognizable to me, so I had fun searching Google while I was reading. I also enjoyed the pseudo watercolor pictures at the beginning of each chapter, very reminiscent of the book’s predecessors. It has an appeal for both younger and older readers, not only with regard to the Noir tradition, but the humor and the formatting as well. I am eager to read more!
Other related materials: The Third Pig Detective Agency books by Bob Burke; Shirley Link books by Ben Zackheim, illustrated by Robin Hoffman; The Mad Scientists’ Club books by Bertrand R. Brinley, illustrated by Charles Geer; The Baker Street Mysteries books by Jake Thoene and Luke Thoene; Mandie books by Lois Gladys Leppard; The 39 Clues books; Kingdom Keepers books by Ridley Pearson; Kingdom Keepers: The Return books by Ridley Pearson; Saddleback Pageturners Detective books by Anne Schraff; Five-Minute Mysteries: 37 Challenging Cases of Murder and Mayhem for You to Solve by Ken Weber; Even More Five-Minute Mysteries: 40 New Cases of Murder and Mayhem for You to Solve by Ken Weber; Further Five-Minute Mysteries: 36 New Cases of Murder and Mayhem for You to Solve by Ken Weber