Created by Chris Wieland
Adding a little much-needed grit and ooomph to the middle grade reading level is KAT DYLAN, a smart, feisty 13-year-old girl detective. Kat and her kid brother Alec are the children of divorced parents (daddy’s an LAPD homicide cop, mom’s an Army nurse), but when Mom gets deployed, she and her kid brother Alec are shipped off from Los Angeles to the small town of Crabtree, Michigan–seems afterschool care in Los Angeles was out of the family’s price range.
Crabtree, however, isn’t exactly Kat’s first choice–she was a free range big city kid, and Crabtree’s not the most welcoming burg around. Nor does it help that they has to live with her eternally grumpy Grampa Nick, the town’s chief of police. Even worse, though, is that she’s supposed to keep an eye on her annoying kid brother Alec, a skateboard-obsessed ten-year old.
Plus… Crabtree is sooooo boring…
But the excitement level picks up considerably when a gang wearing monster masks rob the local bank, and Grampa Nick is suspected of being in on it in The Crabtree Monsters (2022), the first in a proposed series aimed at readers aged nine to twelve.
It’s an intriguing debut, offering a more modern take on Nancy Drew and a younger (and far more kid-friendly) take on Veronica Mars. Kat’s smart and tough, a good student and a strong athlete, plus she’s a bit of a true crime geek, and she knows how to defend herself–everything the thoroughly modern girl detective should be.
As for Alec, her crimefighting partner? He’s your typical annoying kid brother, a sk8r boi and would-be badass obsessed with fart jokes and Kung Fu movies and, much to his loner sister’s dismay, far more popular than she is.
It’ll be interesting to see where the author takes the odd couple siblings, as they tyry to come to terms with their new home. A sequel, The Body On The Beach, is already planned.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Wieland is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. He is also the father of two fierce children, including a tough, smart tween who he claims helped him find the voice of Kat Dylan. He lives in Southern California with his family.
“Wieland has created quite the lively hero in Kat—a teenager with a crackling sense of humor who’s not afraid of a fight and has a talent for investigation . . . A funny, adventurous tale of a girl who turns small-town sleuth.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“The Crabtree Monsters is a hard-hitting, gritty middle-grade novel that grips readers from the very first page. Families are notoriously messy, and Wieland doesn’t try and hide that or dress it up in platitudes; his depictions of divorce, bullying, poverty, and absentee parenting are realistic as well as sympathetic. Importantly, though, he also provides a protagonist who can help readers see the solutions as well as the problems, and the good as well as the bad. Smart, tough, and determined, Kat is a fantastic protagonist – easy to relate to and invest in.”
— Children’s Book Review
- Kiddie Pulp
Get ’em While They’re Young.