Investigators Mango and Brash are on the hunt for Crackerdile, who has been turned into a bucket of dough. With the help of the plumber who has been combined with a snake, Crackerdile plans to find the perfect secret lair and recruit more villains. But first, Crackerdile must find a way to change forms because “no one’s going to want to join a team led by a soft pile of mush.”
Before Mango and Brash start their investigation, they are given new V.E.S.T.s. However, once outside the science lab, the new V.E.S.T.s cause problems of their own. For instance, Mango and Brash are mistaken for investment bankers and must attend a board meeting, which is a complete bore.
As Brash and Mango are stuck in the meeting, Crackerdile figures out a way to make himself into Waffledile. Then, Waffledile kidnaps a scientist. With the scientist’s help, Waffledile grows to a huge size. But then Waffledile eats Brash. Is there any way to stop Waffledile? And how can Mango free Brash from Waffledile’s stomach?
Off the Hook is a graphic novel that is laugh-out-loud funny. The combination of human and animal characters blends to create a ridiculous story that uses wordplay to add humor. While readers will enjoy all the wordplay, parents might not like the references to butts.
The imaginative story comes alive in brightly colored artwork that shows the characters’ wide range of emotions. The text is large and uses different font sizes, which help emphasize the characters’ emotions and important aspects of the story. Another positive aspect is that the human scientists are a diverse group of characters with a wide range of skin tones. The end of the book shows how to draw Waffledile and includes a few riddles.
The illustrations and the unique storyline of Brash and Mango will appeal to even the most reluctant readers. Each page has 3 to 11 sentences. The sentences range from one word to more complex sentences. The story does an excellent job of giving enough background information so readers who are new to the series will understand the plot. However, for maximum enjoyment, the series should be read in order.
Off the Hook will appeal to even the most reluctant readers because the plot is more silly than serious. Readers may not understand all of the humor regarding investment bankers, but they will still enjoy the silly antics of Brash and Mango. Parents who want their children to read a graphic novel with a more positive message should add the Hilo Series by Judd Winick to their reading list.
- Crackerdile prods Brash with an electric shocker. Then Crackerdile ties up Brash and drops him off a train. Crackerdile blows up the bridge and the train crashes in a puff of smoke. Later, the reader finds out that this five-page scene was a simulation.
- The plumber tries to hit Brash and Mango, but instead, he breaks a window. The plumber’s snake arm whacks Mango over the head with a stop sign, “Wham Wham Wham.”
- Waffledile puts an electrical cord around a huge chicken’s neck. He threatens the scientist’s chicken, “You’re going to make me as big as you! Giddy up! Ha Ha! I feel like a cowboy.”
- The plumber’s snake arm ties Brash and Mango to a pole.
- Waffledile grows so big that he destroys a roof. The construction workers begin throwing tools and bricks at Waffledile.
- Waffledile eats Brash. Mango dumps concrete on Waffledile. Then the plumber crashes into the statue of Waffledile and pulls Brash out of its stomach.
Drugs and Alcohol
- There is some humor about butts. For example, as a scientist is flushing Brash and Mango down a toilet, she says, “Hold on to your butts.”
- After Waffledile eats Brash, Waffledile says, “You can’t dump concrete on me and save your partner. But let me go, and I’ll barf Brash back up! Or you know, he could come out the other way.” A reporter on the scene says, “Inquiring minds want to know. Do waffles have butts?”
- Darn, drat, dang, and dagnabbit are occasionally used as exclamations.
- The characters sometimes call other people idiots. For example, Crackerdile says his team’s mission would be “the total annihilation of idiot law-doers!”
- Crackerdile is “a former-agent-turned-radioactive-saltine-cracker.” In this installment of the series, Crackerdile is a bucket of dough.
- One of the villains is a “plumber whose arm was combined with a snake, giving him grappling hook powers.”
- Crackerdile is cooked in a waffle iron. He says, “I, Crackerdile, have been reborn as . . . Waffledile!”
- Dr. Jack Hardbones is a “news helicopter but also a skilled surgeon.” He can change back and forth from a human to a helicopter.