“Life in the bug city. It ain’t easy” (p. 7)
Have you ever had one of those days? When your brand new assistant doesn’t have the first clue about collecting evidence, bungles eyewitness interviews and nothing generally goes right? Joey Fly, Private Eye is having one of those days. But he’s determined not to let little things like a clumsy assistant and getting fired stand in his way of solving the case of the missing diamond pencil case for the beautiful swallowtail butterfly, Delilah. As Fly gets closer to the truth, something is fishy, and it’s not just the smell of scorpion aftershave. Will he be able to solve the case?
I don’t normally read graphic novels but I really loved Joey Fly. I was amused by Reynolds’ use of what Booklist calls “this noir-type story filled with classic detective dialogue and swarms of insect humor.” The art is clean and stays firmly within its designated boxes, which I appreciate because it helps me follow the story better. I’m not a big fan of more cluttered pages with a lot happening, like The Secret Science Alliance. My only concern would be for the audience-will they appreciate the element of film noir? Or will it be lost on them?
Julian Calendar is getting the second chance he always dreamed of. He gets to start over at a new school where no one knows he’s a huge nerd. During “Operation: Act Ordinary”, Julian must pretend he doesn’t know the answer to every question his teachers ask and that he loves sports. The plan works well…for about a week. Julian lets a complicated explanation of aerodynamics slip out during history class and the jig is up. Now he’ll never be popular.
But then he gets a secret coded note that will change his life. Greta (notorious bad girl) and Ben (dumb jock) want him to join their secret science club! Like Julian, Greta and Ben love inventing things and think Julian will be the perfect addition to their group. Together they form the Secret Science Alliance and spend their days swapping ideas for new inventions.
Then one day they discover their top secret idea notebook is missing! When Julian reads a newspaper article showing the evil Dr. Wilhelm Stringer standing beside one of their inventions, the kids know who’s stolen their precious notebook. Dr. Stringer hasn’t liked Julian , Greta and Ben since Greta’s Hover Hook accidentally flew into his laboratory. Now he’s taking credit for their ideas and is planning to use their inventions to commit a crime! Will the Secret Science Alliance be able to stop him before it’s too late?
I liked the idea of these three finding each other despite appearing to be so different. Middle school is a time where appearances are everything and being into things like science might not make you the most popular kid at school. It is a sweet story about fitting in even when you stand out, but not one I’ll likely remember.