We've all heard the joke: "Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 ate 9!" I hope you get it, if not we've got problems. Well now that world famous elementary school joke has been fleshed out into a well crafted story in picture book form with 7 Ate 9 by Tara Lazar and Ross MacDonald.

The hero of our story is I, a private eye who is solving a crime for his client, 6. 6 is very afraid of 7 after hearing rumors that 7 ate 9 and is coming after 6. It will take a lot of sleuthing through the world of letters and numbers for I to crack the case. Can you figure out what happened to 9 before I does?

I love the concept and execution of this story, even if the detective genre may be lost on this current generation of kids (I was lucky enough to have Who Framed Roger Rabbit? as a frame of reference in my youth). Tara Lazar has a lot of fun with number puns and even includes jokes that will be above the target audiences heads, such as the Pi shop that I dines at while on the case.

The illustrations by Ross MacDonald are a lot of fun. Not all of the numbers have logical places for faces, with 11 being the weirdest looking character in the book. But this world inhabited by letters and numbers is well thought out and some very informed character choices are easily identified based on their shoes, gloves and faces (11 wears cowboy boots, for the record).

If your kids have mastered learning their numbers and the alphabet, then they should get a real kick out of 7 Ate 9. With fun pictures and a cute story, it will keep parents smiling as their kids giggle at some of the silly puns. It should also give everyone some closure when they find out what really happened to 9. I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that he's not being digested as we speak.