The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea by Renée Treml

Renée Treml’s Sherlock Bones series is one of my go-to suggestions for kids who like books like The Bad Guys and Dog Man. It’s a fun and fact-filled series about a bird skeleton who solves mysteries in a natural history museum. Renée has now brought her humour and fantastic illustrations to her new series of graphic novels for younger readers. The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea bursts on to shelves this month with the first two books, It’s Owl Good and Squeals on Wheels.

Ollie is an owl who wears glasses. He’s worried about what others will think of him wearing glasses, because owls are known for their powerful vision. Maybe they can help Ollie to disguise his true identity, like his superhero idol, Super Owl. Without his glasses though Ollie can’t see properly, and he ends up tripping over Bea’s feet. Bea is a rabbit with huge feet, but she thinks that they’re no good for anything. Ollie and Bea will help each other to find their inner superhero, and become best friends in the process.

In Squeals on Wheels, Ollie is ready to go roller skating but Bea keeps making up excuses why she can’t go. Ollie wants to help Bea to find her skates, and even gets the super team to help. Bea admits that she is worried about looking silly, but with a little help from Ollie and his ridiculous costumes, Bea gives it a go.

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea is a totally adorable and absolutely hilarious graphic novel series for younger readers. The stories are simple, but fun, making them perfect for newly independent readers. The illustrations are cute and the characters are super expressive. The panels are sparse but colourful, which makes the stories easy to follow for younger readers. Renée’s humour shines through in both the pun-filled text and the illustrations. I love a good pun and there are plenty of them in these stories to keep readers laughing out loud.

Kids will find Ollie and Bea really relatable because they deal with real worries with fun and humour. Whether it’s worrying about being teased because of wearing glasses or worrying about looking silly on roller skates, Ollie and Bea are there for each other and try to help each other feel better. I especially love Ollie’s support and encouragement in Squeals on Wheels. I really like the way that Ollie and Bea interact with the reader at different parts too. It really makes the reader feel like part of the story.

Sandra Nobes has done a wonderful job of the cover design of the series. These covers will certainly grab kids’ attention, especially Ollie in his bright wig and underpants on the cover of Squeals on Wheels.

If you know kids who love the Elephant and Piggie or Monkey and Cake stories you need to get them The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea. They’ll be hooked from the first chapter. I hope that this is the first two of many Ollie and Bea books.

Sherlock Bones and the Sea-Creature Feature by Renée Treml

Everyone has wondered what happens in a museum at night. There have been books written and movies made about it. In Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery, Renée Treml introduced us to the great detective known as Sherlock Bones. The always sharp and super-observant tawny frogmouth skeleton is back on the case again in his latest mystery, Sherlock Bones and the Sea-Creature Feature.

Sherlock Bones lives in the State Natural History Museum with his pals Grace the raccoon and Watts the stuffed parrot. When the sun goes down and the humans leave, Sherlock and his friends come alive. A new wing of the museum has just opened, with new exhibits, but Sherlock has heard of a swamp monster that is scaring the visitors and the octopus is missing. Where there is a mystery Sherlock Bones isn’t far away.

Sherlock Bones and the Sea-Creature Feature is a pun-tastic read that is both laugh-out-loud funny and chock-full of facts. Sherlock not only thinks he is an amazing detective (he’s really not), he also thinks he’s the funniest bird around (he just ends up making himself laugh). He has plenty of bad puns up his sleeve that will make readers young and old crack up. Unlike Sherlock and Grace, Watts never says anything out loud but he still communicates with Sherlock and his wings can be extended to help Sherlock fly around the museum. Sherlock and his pals are always on the lookout for clues but the reader sees things that they completely miss. Grace spends a good part of the story distracted with a Rubix cube and isn’t aware of what is going on around her.

The story is told in a graphic novel format, with black and white illustrations. Sherlock is a skeleton but Renée has given him so much personality. I think the star of the show has to be Nivlac though, as he is able to turn invisible and disguise himself. You can tell that Renée has had a lot of fun hiding Nivlac in the illustrations.

The thing I love the most about this book is the way that Renée incorporates information into the story. There are facts about the exhibits in the illustrations that help to explain what is happening in the story. The exhibit about the octopus says that octopus do not have a skeleton which means they can squeeze into tight spaces. This explains why the octopus goes missing. It’s one of those books that is really entertaining but you don’t realise you’re learning something at the same time.

I highly recommend both Sherlock Bones books, especially for kids who struggle to find something to read. They’ll be hooked straight away. They’re also great for kids who have read all of the Bad Guys books by Aaron Blabey as they’re a similar format and sense of humour.