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*Ace Lacewing: Bug Detective* by David Biedrzycki

Also by David Biedrzycki:

Me and My Dragon

Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective: Bad Bugs Are My Business
Ace Lacewing: Bug Detective
by David Biedrzycki
ages 4-8 40 pages Charlesbridge Publishing June 2005 Hardcover    
It was a night like any other night in the city. Hot and sticky. Great weather if you're a bug. Everyone's a bug in Motham City. Some good, some bad. Bad bugs are my business.
Beginning reader-aged kids - especially those fascinated with insects - and their parents will love curling up together with this mock hard-boiled detective tale. Ace Lacewing, along with his childhood pal Sergeant Zito, the mosquito cop, and his pathologist girlfriend, the butterfly Xerces Blue, tries to solve the mysterious kidnapping of Queenie Bee: the universally adored head of Hive Rise Honey Company and Princess Pollen's sister.

It's a tough case to crack; a sassy maggot is the only witness to the abduction itself, but he can't provide many details - no eyes yet, of course. After following the honey trail to the Beetle Zoo, encountering an uncaged tiger beetle and knocking himself out in the process, Ace, Zito and Xerces question a host of rough characters - roaches who ran from the scene of the crime, it being their nature to scatter when the lights go on; a cicada who molts and flies off before he has to say anything; a jokester walkingstick; and a long-nosed assassin bug.

At last they get a break in the case. A bee whispers from the shadows that he knows who has Queenie and why, but a drive-by gassing from a bombadier beetle puts the drone out of commission, though not before he manages to moan "Drone HoneyWorks."

Ace heads over to Al the Drone's HoneyWorks - right across from the Beetle Zoo - and he and Zito sneak past savage mantis guards by plastering themselves to passing trash-collecting dung beetles' dung ball. A mantis catches them snooping and hauls them into Al's lair. There, among the scent of honey and pollen, they come face to face at last with the kidnapper.

The cadence of the hard-boiled private eye novel and atmospheric pencil-drawn, Photoshop-colored illustrations (the punnish nature of the background details will have grown-ups giggling) carry readers spellbound through the story as they ride the rhythm of the mystery. The bright colors of the happy ending wraps things up on a high note. Ace Lacewing is a blast.

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  Sharon Schulz-Elsing/2005 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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