Mystery Baby: Game Player, written by Jolimichel Robinson and illustrated by Ron Cunningham
[Note: This book was sent to me free of charge by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own. A copy of the book may be found here.]
From time to time I read books directed to young audiences, and this definitely feels like one of those. Perhaps it would be best to say that this book reads like a quirky and wholesome short volume aimed at female mid-grade readers. This is the first of three books by the author that I read and I must admit I found it to be an intriguing entrance into what is clearly a larger series. The titular mystery girl, Misty, is fond of solving mysteries and is reasonably curious about life and other people in it. As far as single young women go, she is wholesome in that she pines away for someone who seems particularly clueless–although it is a common trope in literature as well as sitcoms and movies that men are clueless about women, something the author seems to be playing on here–and spends a lot of time watching television when she is not solving mysteries. The book should be of interest to readers.
Without spoiling the entire plot of the book, which is somewhat complicated, it is worthwhile to explain something about this graphic novel. Misty Babeson and her associate Johnny Solver work together as part of the Jolly Town Investigations firm, which is based (not surprisingly) in Jolly Town. While Misty pines for Johnny, and attempts to solve a game show riddle, she and her co-worker find a particular piece of jewelry that has been dropped by a beautiful young woman in a hurry. Their attempts to return the jewelry to the girl call to mind the mysteries that Misty seems unable to solve and point out that some people go to considerable lengths to remain somewhat hidden because they have private business, which is definitely the case with the mysterious woman who left her pocketwatch behind as she was racing to conduct her business. In the end, various similarities that are found including formulas on SD cards and the patterns on the watch allow our heroes to solve the mystery, even if the incomplete state of their interactions with each other indicate that some romantic tension can be expected in later volumes of this series.
The writing in the book is amusing, and in some ways it is written almost like a screenplay, with the action given in the spare form that a playwright would use. The art in this book is like that one would see on MS paint, and while some people may not find the illustrations to be all that impressive, I found it to be somewhat delightfully odd, which added to the charm of the series as a whole. Readers who are inclined to be suspicious may go beyond the text and wonder how it is that Misty is alone, why it is that there are so many secrets in their world, and how it is that two friendly but not particularly bright people can make a living as investigators in what appears to be a very small town where nearly every business, it seems, is named after the town itself. One wonders if Jolly Town is based on any areas that the author is familiar with or if it is merely a pun on the name chosen by the author to represent this book–and all of her books–as a Jolimichel Production. At any rate, this book certainly solves some mysteries while others remain.