The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo

Charles Thompson is not as excited as his parents are to move into a graffiti-slathered, dilapidated former hotel in Echo City. As he unpacks his collectible warrior beanbag animals in his cell-like top-floor room, his dad says, "Minimalism, Charles. We are not what we own." "Hands off my stuff!" his son retorts. It's not just the witty dialogue that distinguishes The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo, it's the delicious, expertly paced suspense-building, starting with the giant yellow eyeball peering out from Charles's closet his first night in the room.

Charles knows instinctively that no adults will ever acknowledge the fanged truth of his closet monster. Fortunately, a neighborhood kid gives him the business card of "Margo Maloo, Monster Mediator." Charles calls her, and one hour later, the oddly vampiric, brown-skinned girl creeps into his window. Charles and Margo descend through an old access panel in the closet into a long-neglected hotel kitchen and follow a path of bones (probably fried chicken) that leads straight to the yellow-eyed troll's lair. Thus begins the meat of the adventure in this tremendously funny and superbly illustrated graphic novel by Drew Weing (illustrator of Eleanor Davis's Flop to the Top).

Margo Maloo acts as a go-between for monsters and children, trying to foster good will and cultural understanding for everyone's safety. Before long, Charles--blogger and wannabe journalist--starts tagging along with her on missing-kid cases and missing-ogre-baby cases alike. For readers as curious as Charles, there's a mini-encyclopedia of monsters and the like with pencil sketches and astute observations like "Goblins are very bureaucracy-minded." Scoop this one up. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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