So, Zengo is a new detective, determined to live up to the record of his heroic grandfather, killed taking down a panda gangster. He's also suspicious of said Panda's son. Everyone else seems to think Frank Pandini Jr. is a great benefactor, but Zengo isn't so sure. He gets paired with O'Malley, a tough old-timer who's maybe been around just a little too long. There's a stink of illegal fish all over town and mysterious disappearances. Zengo is enthusiastic and doesn't think much of O'Malley, but his inexperience lands him and his partner in the doghouse - or rather, the crossing-guard house; they're both demoted. It takes a combination of both their skills to break the illegal fish ring although in the end Pandini gets away.
The whole story is kind of a parody of the buddy cop trope. The enthusiastic rookie who doesn't really know what he's getting into, the cynical old cop who's seen it all and lost some of his edge. There's a kid who gets in over his head, illegal substances flooding the city, and even the sinister gangster behind it all. Of course, in this story the cops are platypuses, armed with boomerangs, the illegal drugs are fish, and the gangster is a panda bear.
Verdict: It's hard for me to translate the tough cops and dark, gritty city streets of the original into the lighter feel of a kid's book. It's just too...silly. I can see kids liking the funny aspects of the story, but only younger kids and at over 200 pages this will be too long for most younger readers. Of course, I could be wrong on this. I'm not getting a really good feel for kid appeal on this one so...feel free to draw your own conclusions. I already ordered it (b/c PLATYPUSES) and I'll booktalk it and see how it goes over the summer. I'll have to trust Krosoczka's proven track record of kid appeal on this one.
ISBN: 9780062071651; Published May 7, 2013 by Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2013; Purchased for the library