Rebecca & Lucie in the Case of the Missing Neighbor

A book about a possible murder, award-winning French Canadian Pascal Girard's Rebecca & Lucie in the Case of the Missing Neighbor guarantees delight--if nothing else but to laugh with Girard himself. Here in his vivid graphic world, translated by Aleshia Jensen, Pascal Girard is Rebecca's partner (he just wants a romantic, childless date night) and eight-month-old Lucie's father (he's still struggling with the logistics of parenthood).

Girard is definitely no star; that superhero title instead goes to Rebecca, who's making the most of the final weeks of her maternity leave. She's attuned to Lucie's every need while managing a social life through mommy-and-me classes, which occasionally require chasing away shutterbug perverts. One dark night while nursing Lucie, she witnesses suspicious activity on the street below. The news at her local café soon thereafter announces the disappearance of Eduardo, a home nurse familiar to many for his helpful kindness. Rebecca recalls that late-night "CLONK," and is inspired to start her own investigation. Of course, Lucie proves to be the ideal sidekick none of Eduardo's employers, family or colleagues can resist.

Girard (Petty Theft) saturates his borderless six-panels-to-a-page with riotously vibrant color--as if his admiration for Rebecca's clever energy can't be fully contained. And is she for real? That line between fiction and memoir blurs further when he credits her by full name for the several pages recounting Lucie's birth story. A bit of sleuthing confirms Pascal and Rebecca are a Montreal couple, that Rebecca works at a bookstore and their bebé Lulu exists. Whether the rest is verifiable doesn't quite matter--because this is undoubtedly one family affair worth thoroughly enjoying. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

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