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.

The InvestiGators series by John Patrick Green

A question that I get almost every day in my school library is ‘Are there any Dog Man books here?’ 95% of the time the answer to that question is no because they’re always on loan. When I get this question I like to have another book or two up my sleeve to recommend and my go-to books now are the InvestiGators series by John Patrick Green. They’re the same format, about the same length, with appealing illustrations and laughs galore.

The InvestiGators are Mango and Brash, two wise-cracking alligators who work for S.U.I.T. (Special Undercover Investigation Teams). Armed with their V.E.S.T. (Very Important Spy Technology) they fight crime and protect their city from evil-doers. In their first case together they must solve the case of the missing chef, Mustachio, and find out who caused the explosion at the Science Factory. In their second mission, Take the Plunge, Mango and Brash stop a rocket from causing destruction but unwittingly transmit a code that will create havoc all over town. Mango and Brash get sent into the sewers, undercover, to retrieve another S.U.I.T. agent and capture Crackerdile. When things don’t go to plan though, Mango and Brash are relieved of their duty and replaced by the B Team. They must prove that the A team is the best and solve the case of the Robot Genie before it’s too late.

This series is absolutely hilarious and I can’t get enough of Mango and Brash! With their bright illustrations, action-packed story, silly antics and laughs galore these books are perfect for young readers, but also equally entertaining for older kids and adults. The story is bursting with puns that had me laughing out loud and there are some jokes just for the adults (like the reference to the Aisle of Dr Morrow in Take the Plunge).

Kids will love the characters, especially Mango and Brash, and will be desperate to get their hands on their next adventure. As well as Mango and Brash there are other characters who keep popping up in each book, like their nemesis (and former S.U.I.T. agent) Crackerdile. My favourite character though is Doctor Copter. Dr. Jake Hardbones, a mild-mannered brain surgeon, was bitten by a rabid helicopter and now, whenever he sees something newsworthy he transforms into the Action News Now helicopter in the sky. It cracks me up every time I see him!

There’s a fun cameo in Take the Plunge too. If you’ve read John Patrick Green’s Kitten Construction Company (brilliant series!) you’ll spot Marmalade and her crew in the illustrations.

InvestiGators and InvestiGators: Take the Plunge are must-haves for all primary and intermediate school libraries. They are perfect for fans of Dog Man and Bad Guys or kids who just want a really funny book. Book 3 is out early in 2021 and I can’t wait to see what Mango and Brash get up to next.