Reviews for ChicagoLand Detective Agency 1 : The Drained Brains Caper

Booklist Reviews 2010 September #2
This series opener does the legwork of bringing together the major players--Megan, the new girl in town; Raf, who works at his mom's pet-food store; and a talking dog schooled in the lingo of classic detective movies--but it doesn't forget to tell an entertaining story. Megan gets enrolled in a summer school where the students are all suspiciously conformist--and what's with the Band-Aids they all sport on their foreheads? Sure enough, something's rotten at Stepford Prep, and that something is the maniacal Dr. Vorschak, who's looking to score a Nobel by lobe-snipping and serum-injecting, making kids perfect little citizens. Page's black-and-white cartooning has a loose manga slant, with peppy goofiness popping out from stippled screen tones. There are also plenty of references that fans of the format will pick up on: Megan sneaks copies of Peroxide and Veggie Baskets into class. Heroic zaniness abounds, and in the end, Megan, Raf, and Bradley the dog decide to jump into the private-eye business. There's little doubt readers will happily jump with them.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
While looking for a pet tarantula, haiku-writing vegetarian Megan meets Raf at the pet store. Soon they form the Chicagoland Detective Agency and become embroiled in saving brainwashed teens and a talking dog from the evil Dr. Vorschak. The black-and-white cartoon illustrations are somewhat hard to follow. The story line, though facile, is diverting. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 August #1

Thirteen-year-old Megan Yamamura is new in Chicagoland. She had a bit of trouble in her last school when she accidentally set off the sprinkler system (burning a haiku written to a boy who wasn't worth it). Now she attends the Stepford Preparatory Academy, where the kids are a bit too smiley. When Megan, a vegetarian, refuses to eat the swill served in the school cafeteria (and kind of starts a food fight), her father takes her to see psychiatrist Dr. Vorschak. However, Dr. Vorschak's not what she appears to be; soon Megan is in dire need of assistance. Good thing she made one near-friend in Raf Hernandez, who works at his mother's pet-supply store. Together with talking dog Bradley, who learned English from watching detective movies, the newly christened Chicagoland Detective Agency solves the case! Underground-comix icon Robbins pens a passable origin story for the first volume of this new series, and Page's manga-influenced black-and-white panels are a good match. With the setup accomplished, readers can hope that now the actual mysteries can begin. (Graphic mystery. 8-12)


Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 July #2
This new graphic novel series kicks off with 13-year-old Megan Yamamura going into the pet store where 12-year-old Raf Hernandez works and demanding a tarantula. Soon readers learn that Raf is an expert with computers and programs, while Megan has a poetical mind and got herself kicked out of her last school by accidentally setting it on fire. Now her frazzled father ships her off to Stepford Academy, a school no doubt named in honor of Ira Levin's Stepford Wives. Here the children and teachers are brainwashed, all except for Megan, who realizes something fishy is going on. Before long Raf is helping her get to the bottom of things, and the pair find a dog who's been surgically altered to allow him to speak. The three decide to make their own detective agency, their first case the mystery of the brainwashing school. This is a promising, edgy debut for a graphic novel series, with b&w art that could fit in with newspaper comic strips. The eccentric and likable personalities of Megan and Raf are an especially strong pull. Ages 9-13. (Sept.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 November

Gr 4-7--Thirteen-year-old Megan Yamamura has recently moved to Chicago. A vegetarian haiku poet and manga fan, she stands out at her new school, Stepford Academy, where the students appear to be brainwashed into complete conformity. With her new friend Raf Hernandez, Megan uncovers the exploits of campy villain Dr. Vorschak and rescues a talking dog who is a fan of old detective films. Though it is full of sophisticated references, this inventive, playful story should appeal to tween readers. Diverse characters and assured, accessible cartoon-style illustrations make it a promising start to a new series.--Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library, NY

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VOYA Reviews 2010 October
The Drained Brains Caper, the first in the new Chicagoland Detective Agency graphic novel series, tells the story of Megan, a new student at Stepford Academy whose suspicions about the zombielike student body get her a psychological evaluation that leads to an action-packed adventure with new friend and computer programmer Raf. At the conclusion, Meg and Raf team up with an animal ally with unexpected talents to form the Chicagoland Detective Agency Fast-paced mystery, likeable characters, and zombies equal a strong start to this new graphic novel series from writer Trina Robbins and artist Tyler Page. Megan is a particularly well-formed character; her sense of humor, love of poetry, and teenage impatience make her likeable. Illustrations effectively convey mood and action. Twelve-year-old Raf, however, does not look twelve; this is confusing, because he is also introduced as a computer programmer working at a pet supply store. Once the reader determines that Raf and Megan are peers, the story makes sense. The book wraps up with Meg and Raf teaming up with Bradley, the sleuthing, talking dog, to form the Chicagoland Detective Agency. The talking dog makes this graphic novel appeal to a younger audience, but older tweens and young teens will enjoy Meg's eclectic interests and, of course, the zombies.--Molly Krichten 3Q 4P M J Graphic Format Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.