Okay peeps, if you know a kid who is suffering from a serious case of grouchiness, I can help. I can help because I have discovered a graphic novel series so adorable, so funny, so full of pep and personality that I can more or less guarantee that reading these books will turn any frown upside down. May I present, Guinea PI(G), Pet Shop Private Eye. If you haven’t already discovered this charming collection, you will thank me. (You will also probably be stealing them from your kid’s bookshelf because they are So Much Fun to read). Who says a grown up can’t read a book with a cartoon guinea pig on the cover, right?
When the “G” falls off of the GUINEA PIG sign on Sasspants’ cage, Hamisher, the new hamster in Mr. Venezi’s pet shop, makes the mistake of thinking that Sasspants is a private eye. Sasspants would much rather hang out on her own, reading books, but Hamisher won’t let up until she “helps” Sasspants to solve the mystery of the missing sandwich (book 1), discover the identity of the pet shop ghost (book 2), crack the case of the strange sign vandal (book 3), reveal the truth behind Mr. V’s new assistant (book 4), and track down the missing bookstore cat (book 5). The mysteries are small, the characters are small, the books are small, but the heart and the humour and the entertainment value are big.
These books make the perfect introduction to the graphic novel genre for young readers as the stories are just the right length and are easy to follow. Kids love scenarios featuring bumbling adults. Mr. Venezi, with his mislabeled animal cages (chinchillas are camels, mice are walruses), and his generally clueless nature, will definitely get kids smiling. The personality of each of the animals is distinctly kooky, as Colleen A.F. Venable nails the dialogue, packing it full of laugh out loud moments and plenty of sass. You get the feeling as you read that Venable really enjoys writing these characters. It’s hard to choose which one of the little critters is my favourite. Hamisher is pretty awesome, with his flair for the dramatic, Sasspants is ingenious, and the fish are hilariously stupid. The panel layout is nice and simple, and Stephanie Yue’s artwork is wonderfully bright and clean, with huge visual appeal. Plus, she doesn’t let Venable get the credit for all of the jokes. There are plenty of super funny moments added into the visuals. The animals’ facial expressions alone are smile-worthy.
Finally, each book finishes with two pages of related non-fiction info, such as how snakes swallow things that are four times the size of their heads, how mice squeeze through dime-sized holes, and everything you every really needed to know about ferrets, exactly the kind of stuff that kids cannot resist.
Guinea PI(G) Pet Shop Private Eye is just right, in every way. We need more graphic novels as clever and smartly put-together as this delightful series. A total crowd-pleaser.
Guinea PI(G) Pet Shop Private Eye is published by Graphic Universe.