Down in the Dumps: The Mystery Box

Down in the Dumps: The Mystery Box
Age Range
Release Date
September 13, 2022
Buy This Book
The Secret Life of Pets meets The Bad Guys in DOWN IN THE DUMPS, an all-new, highly illustrated early chapter book series about three unlikely friends—a rotten banana, a broken tea pot, and a crusty blob of gum—and their adventures together in the local town landfill. 
To Nana, there isn’t a better, more beautiful home for a mushy, moldy banana than the Westerfield Waste Transfer & Recycling Center! Nana loves living at the dump! She welcomes every new piece of trash with a hardy hug and happy hello.

And in The Mystery Box, the first adventure in the Down in the Dumps series, when a Teddy Tedd Ted doll still perfectly wrapped in his gift box arrives, Nana realizes that not everyone is ready to be thrown away. Will Nana and her friends be able to navigate the many dangers of the dump to help Teddy Tedd Ted find his way home?

The Mystery Box is the first book in the Down in the Dumps series from beloved author-illustrator Wes Hargis. It will have even the most reluctant readers taking out the trash for more adventures! 

HarperChapters build confident readers one chapter at a time! With short, fast-paced books, art on every page, and milestone markers at the end of every chapter, they're the perfect next step for fans of I Can Read!

Editor review

1 review
Finding Friendship in Strange Places
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Written like a graphic novel, Down in the Dumps: The Mystery Box is a cute story about friendship and adventure.
My kids were not a fan of the illustrations, as they are all greyscale and just did not hold their interest well - but they are highly detailed and fun, otherwise.
I enjoy the writing style of the Harper Chapter books; the comic book/graphic novel stylization is fun and easy to follow. The font makes it easy for children to follow along and read aloud, as there isn't much chance for the letters to run into one another. The achievement acknowledgement at the end of the chapters is a fun little bonus and helps get children excited about reading.
The friendship-adventure plot was great. Even though it was new and scary, Nana and the gang knew they had to help their new friend, Teddy, get out of the dump - as he really wasn't trash, and made several new friends along the way.
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