The Drained Brains Caper (Chicagoland Detective Agency Series #1)

( 3 )

Overview

Raf knows Megan is trouble from the moment she steps into his mom's pet food store asking for a tarantula. But there's one thing you can count on in Chicagoland: weird things happen several times a day. Megan is a vegetarian, manga-reading haiku writer. She definitely doesn't fit in at Stepford Academy, her new summer school. The other students are happy to be in class. Too happy. And everyone looks and acts exactly alike. That's weird. Megan is determined to dig into Stepford's secrets, but soon she's in way too...

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The Drained Brains Caper (Chicagoland Detective Agency Series #1)

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Overview

Raf knows Megan is trouble from the moment she steps into his mom's pet food store asking for a tarantula. But there's one thing you can count on in Chicagoland: weird things happen several times a day. Megan is a vegetarian, manga-reading haiku writer. She definitely doesn't fit in at Stepford Academy, her new summer school. The other students are happy to be in class. Too happy. And everyone looks and acts exactly alike. That's weird. Megan is determined to dig into Stepford's secrets, but soon she's in way too deep. Raf may be the only human being she knows who can help. But with zombified students, very mad scientists, and the school psychiatrist on their trail, they're going to need a whole lot more help. We did say that Chicagoland is weird...

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Molly Krichten
The Drained Brains Caper, the first in the new Chicagoland Detective Agency graphic novel series, tells the story of Megan, a new student at Stepford Academy whose suspicions about the zombielike student body get her a psychological evaluation that leads to an action-packed adventure with new friend and computer programmer Raf. At the conclusion, Meg and Raf team up with an animal ally with unexpected talents to form the Chicagoland Detective Agency. Fast-paced mystery, likeable characters, and zombies equal a strong start to this new graphic novel series from writer Trina Robbins and artist Tyler Page. Megan is a particularly well-formed character; her sense of humor, love of poetry, and teenage impatience make her likeable. Illustrations effectively convey mood and action. Twelve-year-old Raf, however, does not look twelve; this is confusing, because he is also introduced as a computer programmer working at a pet supply store. Once the reader determines that Raf and Megan are peers, the story makes sense. The book wraps up with Meg and Raf teaming up with Bradley, the sleuthing, talking dog, to form the Chicagoland Detective Agency. The talking dog makes this graphic novel appeal to a younger audience, but older tweens and young teens will enjoy Meg's eclectic interests and, of course, the zombies. Reviewer: Molly Krichten
Children's Literature - Lauri Berkenkamp
Megan is a haiku-spouting, manga-loving vegetarian who doesn't fit in at her new and very strange school, Stepford Academy. Raf Hernandez is a computer-programming pet store owner with a soft heart. When Megan comes into Raf's store and tells him about the strange behavior of the kids at her school, the duo decide to investigate. They discover that the evil Dr. Vorschak, who is also both the principal of Megan's school and, hilariously, the very crabby lunch lady, has masterminded an evil plot to transform teens into model citizens using a combination of minor prefrontal brain surgery and sheep genes mixed into the school lunches. Megan and Raf manage to fight off Dr. Vorschak and set free a dog named Bradley who has been the unlucky victim of Dr. Vorschak's medical experimentation. With Bradley's help, Raf and Megan fend off a mob of Stepford Academy students bent on making the two behave better. In the end, Megan, Raf and Bradley form a detective agency devoted to fighting injustice in their city. This is the first installment in a new series of graphic novels featuring these three characters. The humor is just right for upper elementary school kids, and some of the more tongue-in-cheek references, such as naming the school Stepford Academy and many allusions to old detective movies, will appeal to adults, as well. The characters are well developed and very funny; Megan is especially appealing when she creates haikus for every crazy situation in which she finds herself. Recommended for readers ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Lauri Berkenkamp
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Thirteen-year-old Megan Yamamura has recently moved to Chicago. A vegetarian haiku poet and manga fan, she stands out at her new school, Stepford Academy, where the students appear to be brainwashed into complete conformity. With her new friend Raf Hernandez, Megan uncovers the exploits of campy villain Dr. Vorschak and rescues a talking dog who is a fan of old detective films. Though it is full of sophisticated references, this inventive, playful story should appeal to tween readers. Diverse characters and assured, accessible cartoon-style illustrations make it a promising start to a new series.—Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews

Thirteen-year-old Megan Yamamura is new in Chicagoland. She had a bit of trouble in her last school when she accidentally set off the sprinkler system (burning a haiku written to a boy who wasn't worth it). Now she attends the Stepford Preparatory Academy, where the kids are a bit too smiley. When Megan, a vegetarian, refuses to eat the swill served in the school cafeteria (and kind of starts a food fight), her father takes her to see psychiatrist Dr. Vorschak. However, Dr. Vorschak's not what she appears to be; soon Megan is in dire need of assistance. Good thing she made one near-friend in Raf Hernandez, who works at his mother's pet-supply store. Together with talking dog Bradley, who learned English from watching detective movies, the newly christened Chicagoland Detective Agency solves the case! Underground-comix icon Robbins pens a passable origin story for the first volume of this new series, and Page's manga-influenced black-and-white panels are a good match. With the setup accomplished, readers can hope that now the actual mysteries can begin. (Graphic mystery. 8-12)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761356356
  • Publisher: Graphic Universe
  • Publication date: 8/28/2010
  • Series: Chicagoland Detective Agency Series , #1
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 1,434,826
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Writer and feminist herstorian Trina Robbins has been writing books, comics, and graphic novels for over 30 years. Her most recent books are The Brinkley Girls (Fantagraphics) and Forbidden City: the Golden Age of Chinese Nightclubs (Hampton Press). Her newest graphic novel is the three-part YA series Chicagoland Detective Agency for Graphic Universe™.

Tyler Page lives in Minneapolis with his wife Cori Doerrfeld (who is also an artist) and their daughter. He was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2003 and received a Xeric Foundation grant in 2007 to publish the first volume of Nothing Better. To date he has created and published 6 books of his own in addition to doing comics and illustration work for a variety of commercial clients. When he's not drawing he serves as the Director of Print Technology Services at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Even reluctant readers will quickly turn the pages in this book

    Raf Hernandez was not at all happy when Megan Yamamura walked through the door of his Mom's pet supply store saying, "I want to buy a tarantula." Duh, there was a big sign in front of the cash register stating they didn't sell animals. His mom always said, " . . . nobody has the right to own another living creature" and that included not selling them. Megan annoyed Raf even more when she told him she was "politely asked to leave" her old school, was into haiku and read manga. TMI and he wanted her out of there. Out she went and it wasn't long before she was walking the halls of Stepford Preparatory Academy going to summer school. All the kids at that academy looked and acted like a bunch of zombies and even had bandages plastered to their foreheads. They were totally model students and enough to make anyone barf. Speaking of which, the lunches were horrid and there was no way Megan would even touch them because she was vegan. Sloppy Joes were simply out of the question, to say nothing of liver and onions. After school she was off to see Rav and ask him for his cell number and email. He started to warm up to her when she told him how she "totally got expelled from school" for burning her haiku in the girl's room. How cool can it get? It wasn't long before she got into trouble in her new school and her father had to take her to have her head examined at Dr. Vorschak's. After she got rid of her dad, the evil doctor injected her with a knockout drug and had her gagged and bound to a table. The lunatic began to talk about her master plan to make Megan into a model citizen along with the rest of the zombies at the Academy. It would be easy. Dr. Vorschak sneered and said, "A simple nip in the prefrontal lobe of your brain, a tuck in the left and right sides of your head, a squirt of sheep genes in the lymph nodes . . . and you will become a model junior citizen." A mysterious caged mutt was watching carefully as the scene unfolded. Megan began to text a haiku to Raf. Would he be able to rescue her before she got that prefrontal lobotomy? Just what did that mutt know about what was going on at the Academy? Megan, Raf, and "doggy Einstein," Bradley, meet up to solve a fabulously freaky mystery at Stepford Academy. Typically manga is drawn in black and white and I found this to be particularly appealing. This book, the first in the series, introduces Raf Hernandez and Megan Yamamura, who quickly become best friends. To add to the mix is "doggy Einstein," Bradley. Together they form the Chicagoland Detective Agency. I loved the way this mini manga mystery unfolded so smoothly and would love to read the next one in the series. Of course the Chicagoland Detective Agency claims there is "no case too weird" for them to tackle. "The Maltese Mummy" is the next one up in the series and if it is as good as this one (weird and nicely wacky), this series will be a hit! Quill says: Even the most reluctant reader will be turning the pages quickly in this book to find out just what is turning all the kids into zombies at the Stepford Preparatory Academy!

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  • Posted September 10, 2010

    Gelati's Scoop

    I was really surprised by this when I opened the pages. I knew absolutely nothing about the author, Trina Robbins or this series. What an eye opener! Trina Robbins has been writing for thirty, yes I said thirty years. Her website is @ http://www.trinarobbins.com/; it is cute and very informative. She has penned a variety of graphic novels; just the covers give you a glimpse into the diversity of her work.
    My fingers cramp up just typing the title to this graphic novel: Chicagoland Detective Agency: The Drained Brains Caper. I enjoyed many things about this: the artwork was really good, the dialogue was engaging, the characters were spot on, the plotline was enjoyable and the young adult theme was refreshing. Trina Robbins has put together a very nice graphic novel and one that can be shared with the whole family. I like the fact I can share this with my youngest children and discuss the reading experience. That now a days is difficult as far too many cross lines that don't need to be crossed.
    Here is a bit from the graphic novel itself: "Raf knows Megan is trouble from the moment she steps into his mom's pet food store asking for a tarantula. But there's one thing you can count on in Chicagoland: weird things happen several times a day.
    Megan is a vegetarian, manga-reading haiku writer. She definitely doesn't fit in at Stepford Academy, her new summer school. The other students are happy to be in class. Too happy. And everyone looks and acts exactly alike. That's weird.
    Megan is determined to dig into Stepford's secrets, but soon she's in way too deep. Raf may be the only human being she knows who can help. But with zombified students, very mad scientists, and the school psychiatrist on their trail, they're going to need a whole lot more help.
    We did say that Chicagoland is weird..."
    I hope that you give this graphic novel a chance, pick it up, and have some fun that doesn't come from the DC/Marvel stable. Trina Robbins delivers the total package here and then some.
    What are you reading today? Check us out and become our friend on Facebook & Linkedin. Go to Goodreads and become our friend there and suggest books for us to read and post on. You can also follow us on Twitter, and the Gelati's Scoop Facebook Fan Page. Did you know you can shop directly on Amazon by clicking the Gelati's Store Tab on our blog? Thanks for stopping by today; We will see you tomorrow. Have a great day.
    http://www.gelatisscoop.blogspot.com

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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