The Sandwich Thief by Andre Marois, illustrated by Patrick Doyon

Marin has a problem, the special sandwiches his mom puts in his school lunchbox have gone missing. Besides going hungry in the cafeteria, he is angry that someone has invaded his personal property, but who to blame. He looks at each of his classmates determining the likely suspects. There are many, but the next day when he rigs his lunchbox with a bell, his school chums are all sitting in the classroom when the culprit strikes once again. Marin then starts suspecting one of the adults, even the haggard principal who promises to get to the bottom of the matter. Finally he tells his parents about his dilemma, and mom, famous for her homemade mayonnaise and unusual sandwich fixings, decides to boobytrap the next lunchtime treat. Chemistry set in hand she creates a combo sure to locate the guilty party. The suspect, caught in the middle of his dastardly deed, is taken off to receive the proper punishment, after rinsing out a mouthful of, shall we say, not very appetizing tastes. Marin, now a hero, can once again enjoy his hand crafted lunches in peace.

The Sandwich Thief by Andre Marois had potential, but fell short. Instead of a cute little tale, it was an angry accusatory story which portrayed all the characters in a less than positive light. Cliched stereotypes included Poor Cindy who was poverty stricken and Big Bobby who never saw a snack he didn’t like. The adults were less than admirable, included the messy, overworked principal (another suspect) who ate less than appetizing store-bought items for his lunch (which he generously offered to Marin to compensate for his missing food). Part of the problem were the illustrations by Patrick Doyon. Despite Doyon’s talent as an artist, his drawings were in a simplistic, comic book style instead of being cute and endearing. Some of the adults were actually kind of scary looking in a Frankenstein sort of way. Perhaps it’s the fact that both author and illustrator are from Montreal, Canada and this “picture book” was originally written in French, only recently being translated into English. While heralded as an early reading book, the vocabulary is not “kid-friendly” for that age group, and despite the numerous illustrations, it is too long to be considered a picture book. It actually would appeal better to the middle school crowd who are already distrustful of adults and would find Marois’ attempts at humor more appealing. Perhaps the author wanted to emulate the Wimpy Kid series, but unfortunately it just didn’t capture the appeal of Jeff Kinney’s works.

Since I didn’t like the portrayal of characters or the entire tone of the story, I am tempted to give this book a rating of one and a half, but I’m sure there are some who will appreciate the warped humor so I reluctantly rate this two stars.

This ARC was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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