InvestiGators: Off the Hook by John Patrick Green

Just when you think John Patrick Green’s InvestiGators series can’t get any better, it does. Mango and Brash are back for another adventure in InvestiGators: Off the Hook and it might just be their funniest one yet.

Crackerdile is just a bucket of dough but he is determined to become a bigger and better villain and get his revenge on S.U.I.T.s. This time he has help. Bill Plungerman used to be a plumber, but thanks to an experiment gone wrong he now has a snake for an arm. Now he’s known as Hookline and Slinker and is working for Crackerdile. The bucket of dough has a plan that involves a waffle iron, a chicken scientist and an underground lab. Mango and Brash don’t know where Crackerdile is, or what his plans are, but they know that he is up to no good. Armed with new V.E.S.T.s the InvestiGators must track down and stop Crackerdile before it’s too late. When the time comes though, can Mango choose between catching the villain or saving his partner?

Off the Hook is another laugh-your-head-off graphic novel that is chock-full of puns and waffle-related food that will make your mouth water. I laughed so hard reading this book! John’s humour works on so many levels. Just like the best movies for kids there are jokes that kids will love but also jokes just for the adults. I loved the running gags about dough, because the characters were getting confused about whether they were referring to cracker dough or money. There are some great waffle-related jokes too, and I cracked up at the end of the book when I saw the menu items for MAW or Mother of All Waffles. If these foods aren’t a real thing they totally should be (like buttermilk fried chicken in an edible waffle bucket). John’s illustrations are hilarious as always and Aaron Polk’s colouring makes the characters pop. I especially like what Aaron has done with Slinker’s eyes when he hypnotizes someone.

The new characters in this book are really entertaining. We got introduced to Bill Plungerman in Take the Plunge but the character of Hookline and Slinker is awesome. Even his name makes me laugh! I really enjoyed the development of his character throughout the story. Cilantro the chameleon is another great new character in Off the Hook. Even though the S.U.I.T.s agents don’t notice him, he really stood out for me, and I’m glad my hunch about him was right. I was waiting for Doctor Copter to show up, as I love his character, and I wasn’t disappointed.

One of the things I really liked about Off the Hook, that was a bit different from the previous books, was the breaking the fourth wall. Mango and Brash go to visit the Science Factory and they comment that it is nice to visit when they’re not in the middle of a science accident, and the scientist says ‘Give it time. This is only page 54.’ There are a couple of other times too, where the characters refer back to something that happened on another page. Another aspect of the whole series that I love is the added extras at the end. You can learn to draw the characters and there are other fun activities you can try, like designing your own V.E.S.T.

Fans of the InvestiGators series will be begging for Off the Hook. I can’t get enough of this series and I hope there are still plenty more books to come. If you haven’t read any of the books in the series you NEED to. All school libraries should have the whole series, especially as they’re such a great read-alike for Dav Pilkey’s Dogman series.

Head to www.investigatorsbooks.com for book trailers, games and activities. There is even a cool colouring book you can download for free.

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