Thursday, January 10, 2013
Who Done It? An Anthology: Investigation of Murder Most Foul
Edited by Jon Scieszka
Soho Teen, 2013
Genre: Short Stories, Mystery
Description: Imagine being an author trying to make it when you get stuck with Herman Mildew, the evilest editor ever to be in existence. He’s described as a mix of Lord Vodemort and Cruella de Vil. He loves to cause misery in his authors’ daily lives and himself is a slob with a major obsession with any kind of cheese—the smellier the better. This anthology collection, edited by the totally impartial and innocent Jon Scieszka, opens with an invitation that all the authors received from Mildew—an invitation to a fancy party. However, more than 80 authors of children’s and young adult books are being informed that Mildew is now dead and they are all suspects. The short stories that comprise the volume are all of the authors’ alibis as to why they, even though they all hated Mildew and wished he were dead, did not indeed actually kill him.
Opinion: John Green. Sara Shepard. Lauren Oliver. Lauren Myracle. Libba Bray. Lemony Snickett. Mo Willems. And many, many more! Over 80 popular and well-loved authors are forced to give their alibis for Herman Mildew’s death in this anthology that is to give its proceeds to benefit 826nyc, a literacy nonprofit organization. The various entries are done in different forms, including typical narratives, illustrations, a short comic strip, poems, and so on. I loved the idea of the book and I liked how a number of the authors were able to keep some common elements throughout their alibis which helped for creating a sense of continuity throughout the various narratives (which could have been very hard to do with more than 80 authors!). For example, many authors touched on Mildew’s love of cheese. However, I feel that the execution of the plot idea could have been done a little better. With so many different entries taking up nearly 370 pages after a while all the alibis really started sounding too much alike. My favorite alibis included one by Sarah Mlynowski and Courtney Sheinnel in which Sarah and Courtney claim to have been together the whole night until they discover Alyssa, Courtney’s sister, has already given her testimony and claims she was with Courtney all night which leads to Courtney and Alyssa ganging up on Sarah and throwing her under the bus. My other favorite piece was the two-page illustrated spread by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown with cleaver puns and Mo Willems (who they claim in the real murderer) locked in a closet. I was sad to see some of the authors I really wanted to hear from having such (but still funny) entries (I’m taking half a page long), such as John Green (I love him talking about his awesome puff of hair as the reason he couldn’t be a killer) and Mo Willems. The ending, after chugging through nearly 400 pages, was a bit of a letdown and I can’t explain why because it is too much of a spoiler. Let’s just say that maybe Mildew wasn’t as horrible as the authors claimed he was and that sometimes they might have been a little awful back at him which lead to the end conclusion of who killed Herman Mildew. Overall, it was a fun book and well worth the purchase for a library teen collection as mystery lovers will like it a lot (because it is impossible to try and find out “who done it”).
Note: I thank my contact at Soho Teen, Meredith Barnes, for sending me an ARC to review.