My 8-year-old isn't ready for Harry Potter, but sneers at most easy reader type books. Fortunately, there do exist books to fill the gap, most recently two books in a new series--Humpty Dumpty, Hardboiled Detective, by the team of Nate Evans, Paul Hindman, and Vince Evens (Sourcebooks Jaberwocky, 2008). Think Guy Noir (from Garrison Keillor's radio show) as a hardboiled egg detective, in a warped fairy tale New Yolk city, with copious black and white drawings featuring lots of action.
"Once upon a Crime:
There was a detective.
Humpty Dumpty Jr., Hardboiled Detective. I'm a good egg who always cracks the case. One morning, sitting at my desk, I watched the sun rise out my grimy window..."
In The Case of the Fiendish Flapjack Flop, H.D. has to rescue the kidnapped baker Patty Cakes from a villain who wants to use her culinary creativity to make the ultimate baked good weapon! In The Mystery of Merlin and the Gruesome Ghost, H.D. and his sidekick, a human boy called Rat, infiltrate a mysterious school for princes to unravel a spookily terrifying tangle.
These are fun and fast-paced books that held my boy's interest, and that is a great thing in a book! I'll be passing my two books, received from the publisher (thanks!), on to my son's third grade classroom, where I'm sure they will find many new fans! Probably most of these fans will be boys--although the second book features a strong girl character, she is overshadowed by the shenanigans of the Egg Detective and young Rat.
You can enter by November 20th to win your own copies of these books here at Blood of the Muse, and here's a rave review of the first book at Blog Critics Magazine.