Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, May 8, 2017

A PU Puzzler

On more than one occasion my canine companion stops in her tracks, nose sniffing the air with enthusiasm.  Her sense of smell proves to be acute and highly accurate repeatedly.  She may refuse to move, looking in one particular direction.  To be able to detect odors with her skill is usually astonishing; a signal for caution or a declaration of company's arrival.  At other times I imagine how unpleasant an aroma is.

As soon as the refrigerator door opens this same furry friend with four paws is sitting next to me; head lifted to savor the scents.  Most of them are wonderful.  When one is highly offensive enough to attract my attention, a search begins.  The Case Of The Stinky Stench (Lady Pancake Sir French Toast) (Sterling Children's Books, May 2, 2017) written by Josh Funk with illustrations by Brendan Kearney brings back the breakfast buddies introduced in Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast (Sterling Children's Books, September 1, 2015).  Within their realm something reeks.

Back in the kitchen and deep in the fridge,
past Trifle Tower, across Taco Bridge,
on a vacation at Marshmallow Coast,
sat Lady Pancake beside Sir French Toast.

Their idyllic hours are about to be interrupted.  Inspector Croissant, nephew to Sir French Toast, is rushing toward them.  A terrible tang is permeating the fridge.  It must be located immediately.   Croissant needs to succeed or his job is history.  Lady Pancake is sure Baron von Waffle is at the center of this repugnant problem.

It seems Waffle is not the culprit in this case; the odor increasing as tater tots make haste.  A green veggie gives them a clue but the water dweller in Corn Chowder Lake is not a helpful hint.  Pancake and Toast are certain the mystery will remain but the detective has everything to gain with finding a solution.

The trio trudges to new heights encountering a revolting stink.  There a cringe-worthy sight greets their eyes.  This guy has to go.  But wait!

Detective Croissant points out a well-known fact.  Back to the beginning the delectable gumshoes go. Will a foul fungus be their first failure?  Will this riddle be their ruin?  Can they turn this mess into success?

One thing is abundantly clear; Josh Funk can turn your refrigerator into a food fantasyland.  Readers will roam with relish through his tasty places as the rhyming words cook up a rhythmic feast for our minds and ears.  The clever use of a red herring educates as it entertains; no mystery is complete without at least one.  Acquainting readers with new characters heightens their desire to connect with the case. It will have them wondering when they will meet these fridge friends again. Here is a sample passage.

"What are you doing here?" Waffle said, sneering.
"I'm sleuthing," Croissant said.  "And you're interfering.
What do you know about smells that are vicious?"
"Nothing!" said Waffle.  "My home smells delicious."

I know for a fact when readers open the matching dust jacket and book case, the first thing they will do (after they smell it, Mr. Schu) is run their fingers over the jacket.  The title text, crown, mustache and decorative dots are raised.  The outline of Inspector Croissant has additional texture.  The colorful gummy bears will generate a comment or two.  To the left, on the back, we see the back of the bears, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast.  In a spotlight stands Inspector Croissant looking right at the reader, ready to solve the case.

In keeping with the rich purple hues, outlines of food are etched on the opening and closing endpapers.  Nearly all of them are animated wearing looks of happiness.  In full color the food surrounding the text on the title page literally looks good enough to eat.  Rendered in pencils and digital media most of Brendan Kearney's illustrations span two pages, edge to edge.  To supply pacing he includes single page pictures and small visuals on a single page.  The vertical gatefold at the end is fabulous.

It's a given readers will pause at every page turn to look at all the included details.  The Trifle Tower, the labels on the maple syrup, the flag outside Baron won Waffle's abode (with gummy bears peeking out the door), and the inspector's suitcase and magnifying glass will increase the laughter factor along with the facial expressions when the stinky stench goes drifting past the fridge residents.  A super technique Kearney uses is to show outlines of the places previously visited behind the current scene.

One of my favorite of several illustrations is when the trio, Lady Pancake, Sir French Toast and Inspector Croissant, are rowing on Corn Chowder Lake.  We are looking at them as if through a porthole.  The lake is a golden orange with large chunks of corn, cheese and herbs floating in it.  The friends are rowing with carrot sticks for oars.  They are seated in a Portuguese Sardines can with the lid curled open with the key.

The Case Of The Stinky Stench (Lady Pancake Sir French Toast) written by Josh Funk with illustrations by Brendan Kearney is sure to have readers laughing out loud as they trek with the trio through the smelly refrigerator.  I guarantee you'll be looking and smelling in your appliance with fresh senses the next time you open the door.  Who knows who you will discover within the chilly realm?  Make sure you have a copy of this title for your personal and professional shelves to partner with the first book.

To discover more about Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their personal websites.  At Josh Funk's site he has quite a few fun things for readers to do.  Josh Funk maintains a blog here.  At The Children's Book Review a giveaway of both titles is in progress until June 5, 2017.  Author Josh Funk is featured at KidLit 411.  On KidLit TV Josh Funk reads Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast before he reveals the cover for this title.   I was thrilled to be able to interview Josh and present the book trailer premiere here at Librarian's Quest.

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