The most junior of the third batch of DFC Library titles is Super Animal Adventure Squad written and illustrated by James Turner.
Agent K (a cat), Agent Irwin (a pelican), Agent Rex (an iguana), Agent Beesley (a rather posh bee) and Agent Bearbot (a robot television, seriously) make up the Super Animal Adventure Squad controlled from a far by their boss, a unicorn with an eye-patch. The book covers two of their assignments to help save the world, The Teatime Of Doom and The Case Of The Baboon Bandit.
In the first story Doctor Nefarious, “the world’s maddest mad scientist,” is stealing all the cakes and pastries from bakeries across the country using mind-controlled ants which of course means that everyone will have to go without a mid-afternoon treat. The Squad raid his headquarters and end up fighting against a gigantic ant.
In the second story pirates steal the world’s most valuable treasure, the Jade Baboon Of Rangoon, so that their leader Green Beard can use its secret to win the Battle Of The Spatulas. The fact that he also has all the greatest chefs in the world as his prisoners so that they cannot take part might help him along as well. The Squad are tasked to retrieve the baboon from Pirate’s Cove
Turner’s naive style of art initially takes a little getting used to but his writing, with its interesting characters, jokes and above all its puns, will soon win you round to the Squad’s side. The first tale was single pages when originally published in the weekly DFC and it sets the scene, but it is the second story, which was two pages per week, that allows the plot to thicken as the characters get themselves into a stew. A set of agent profiles at the end of the book, along with a tongue-in-cheek page on how to draw Agent Beesley, round off a rather nice little package for kids.
There is an animated series on heavy rotation on the Disney TV channels at the moment called Phineas and Ferb in which the humans are all drawn as grotesques and there is a secret agent in the form of a platypus. Kids love it and this reminds me of it.
So this Christmas if you have to buy presents for kids who enjoy Phineas and Ferb then you could do a lot worse than giving them a copy of Super Animal Adventure Squad.
• There are more details of James Turner’s work on his blog