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The Scrapyard Detectives Review: A lot about what it isn't and some about what it is.
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Article by Scott Tingley, October 13, 2007

I live about a half an hour away from the school where I teach and on the way home, on the days I don't drive the car pool, I get dropped off on the main road to walk the 20 minutes to my house. It's probably not a good idea, but I often read while I walk. It is a side rural road with not a lot of traffic, so as long as I avoid holes I am alright.

So what, right?

Well if it wasn't for that walk I might not have bothered reading The Scrapyard Detectives from The Diversity Foundation. I thought it was like one of those throw away PSA comics put out in the 90s telling kids to stay off drugs. Great messages, but awful in execution. Spoiler alert its not.

That was a little surprising. That is the best way for me to describe my feelings about The Scrapyard Detectives . It's not going to make your head spin with its complexity, nor is it going to be something you will want to put in a special bag and board to save away in the hopes that one day it will be worth a holiday. You're probably going to want to share it.

Again, this is not a P ublic S ervice A nnouncement comic. If the writing was a little... less , it would be just that. I keep writing and erasing my description of the book because it comes across as negative and, well, wrong. The book could have gone so wrong: with the gadgets the team of teen detectives use, to the perfectly PC balanced group and neighborhood, to the prominent display of the US flag all over the place. But what is it? It is a solidly written series of stories that deal with racism, immigration, multiculturalism and belonging in very real and accessible ways.

The stories are simple and solid, but not black and white. There is a mystery for the team of young teens to solve, and they solve it, but there is no perfect happy ending. In one of the three issues a rec center gets burned to the ground in an act of arson almost killing two of the main characters. There is no perfect happy ending after something like that. But there is a resolution that may actually teach the reader a little something about life without being hit over the head with it. It deals with overt racism and with the more subtle racism that almost seems acceptable today.

I don't know if there are any more Scrapyard Detectives stories planned, but I would like a little more. For the first two stories, one of the team, Jinn, is in a wheelchair. However, in the third story, she is going through physical therapy and mentions she will walk again. I want to know more. This is really a good way to sum up the series: there is more to it than meets the eye.

Here is what The Diversity Foundation has to say about its series: The Scrapyard Detectives is a free comic book series devoted to promoting a union and cooperation of young people from differing cultures.  These educational comic books have proven successful in presenting an appreciation of multiculturalism, ethnicity and diversity.  Comic books are also an important developmental tool because they engage both the left and right brain to understand language and associate images.  The Diversity Foundation is pleased to give The Scrapyard Detectives as a free educational tool to libraries, educators and community groups. (smilesfordiversity.org)

You can download pdf copies of the series; you can order your own copies of the single issues or the whole collection as a Graphic Novel (for 5 bucks!); or you can apply for free copies for your school or library. All of which can be done HERE .



 

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