February 12, 2015

Tank and Fizz: The Case of the Slime Stampede

by Liam O’Donnell
Illustrated by Mike Deas
Orca Book Publishers
152 pp. 
Ages 8-11
For release March, 2015 
Reviewed from advance reading copy

Slick City in Rockfall Mountain is a quirky community comprised of ogres, trolls, goblins and other monsters. Named for the goop that is dredged from the bottom of Fang Harbor, Slick City is a hub of technological and engineering development. But Mr. Snag, Gravelmuck Elementary’s ogre custodian, still relies on cleaning slimes in his job, having been appropriately licensed to do so. When his slimes are somehow released and run amok, Mr. Snag is arrested and eight-legged Principal Weaver promptly hires the suspicious Mr. Zallin, a monster who uses alternate cleaning methods. Convinced that Mr. Snag is innocent, two fourth-graders, goblin Fizz Marlow and troll Tank Wrenchlin, put their detection and engineering skills to work to determine the true culprit.

Author of Owl Magazine’s Max Finder mysteries, Liam O’Donnell knows how to weave the typical elements of detective stories such as multiple plot lines, red herrings and the usual suspects. But, with the addition of graphics by illustrator Mike Deas, with whom O’Donnell has created six books in Orca’s Graphic Guide Adventure series, The Case of the Slime Stampede is escalated from just middle-grade mystery or graphic novel to a clever amalgam. The graphics, both comics integral to the story’s progression and supplementary illustrations, complement the uproarious text. From the first line (“The principal’s car got eaten first”) and dialogue (“Smart detectives always listen to their tails”) to setting details (“The rest of the day dragged like a legless zombie tied to a dump truck”), readers will be entertained and anxious to solve the mystery. While the story could be an allegory about progress and reliance on limited resources, or even a tale of discrimination, The Case of the Slime Stampede is actually a monstrously imaginative and funny read that launches a great new series.

(A version of this review was originally written for and published in Quill & Quire, as noted in the citation below.)

Kubiw, H. (2015, March). [Review of the book Tank and Fizz: The Case of the Slime Stampede, by Liam O'Donnell]. Quill & Quire, 81 (2): 34.

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