Written and Illustrated by David Biedrzycki
Some cases start small. Some cases start big. This one started with a small flea with a big lump on his head.
The plot in a nutshell: Ace Lacewing searches for the thief who stole Scratch Murphy’s money
Scratch Murphy is a flea who owns Six Legs Park, the bug world’s newest amusement park. He had borrowed money to help finance the park and was ready to pay it back when he was hit on the head and robbed. Ace Lacewing, the bug detective, takes the case and asks Scratch for some details about the events leading up to the robbery. He goes to interview the loan officer at the bank, then some carpenter ants working on the park construction and then Bo Weevil, who was upset about the placement of his cotton candy stand. Ace interviews Scratch’s girlfriend and then sees her with a flea who looks just like Scratch. There is an incorrect assumption made, then Ace figures it out and a chase through the park ensues, with Ace finally retrieving all the stolen money.
This is the second book in the Ace Lacewing book series. Author/illustrator David Biedrzycki clearly has a lot of fun with this character and this world, weaving dozens of clever bug puns and references (such as its Motham City setting) throughout the book. Ace is a detective cut from the same cloth as Sam Spade and the story is told in a way that is clearly a nod to classic film noir detective movies. In fact, there is a lot about this book that may sail right over the kids’ heads and only be truly appreciated by the adults. If your kid has an interest in the insect world, though, they will find a lot here to enjoy, even if they don’t get it the same way that you do.
The illustrations were done in pencil and then colored in Photoshop, which gives the whole book a very animated feel. I liked the way the attention that was given to making sure each different bug character was true to its species (and the fact that Ace Lacewing was able to solve the case by knowing a scientific fact about the perpetrator’s species). Sadly, though, I found the overall book a little too overwhelming to be completely enjoyable. Many of the pictures seemed visually assaultive with signs and shapes and characters, with just too much to look at on each page. And maybe I’m just not a bug person, but the story and its characters felt a little contrived and tedious by the end of the book. It might be great for your budding entomologists, but I probably won’t be checking out the rest of this series.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that it’s possible to pack too much into one story.