Today I’ve got four books brimming with mystery and adventure coming from France, the UK, and Sweden. Beginning with the youngest of readers, we’ll move on up the ranks…
Who Done It? by Olivier Tallec originally published in France; first published in the U.S. in 2015 by Chronicle Books
You’ll love this riddlesome book for small fry from your first glimpse! The long, lean shape. The bright white backdrops. The colorful characters lining each page. So attention-grabbing!
The concept is delightful. A series of questions sets us to scoping out clues and pinpointing our man…or bear, raccoon, girl…such as:
Who played with that mean cat?
12 cheery pages offer a splendid chance to test your mini-Sherlock’s observation skills, with answers in the back, just in case. Jolly fun for ages 2 and up.
Digby O’Day and the Great Diamond Robbery, by Shirley Hughes, illustrated by Clara Vulliamy first published in the UK; first US edition in 2015 by Candlewick Press
This is the second Digby episode — a collaboration between Shirley Hughes and her daughter — and it’s packed with charm, capers, crooks and cleverness!
Digby and his pal Percy are on vacation at the seaside when –Egads! — there’s a robbery! That poshest of stars, Peaches Meow, is missing her diamond necklace! Can Digby and Percy track down the dastardly crooks and save the day for the lovely Peaches?!
It’s a rollicking story for sturdy beginning readers or a snappy read-aloud for young listeners. Every page sings with Vulliamy’s retro-feel illustrations. Great fun for ages 4 and up.
Detective Gordon: The First Case, by Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte Spee, translated by Julia Marshall first published in Sweden; first English language edition 2015 by Gecko Press
This marvelously quirky tale stars Detective Gordon –a plump toad who loves his tea and cakes.
He is aided by a courageous mouse named Buffy. These two eat lots of goodies while doggedly solving the crime at hand — the plundering of a stash of nuts belonging to one overwrought squirrel.
Wonderfully-constructed characters, a sophisticated vocabulary, and a droll narrative style make this a winning story for reading aloud to ages 6 and up, or for independent readers ages 8 or 9 and up. It’s 92 pages long.
Warmhearted drawings in charcoal and pastels bring this tiny world to life with humor and personality. I definitely hope more Detective Gordon tales are in store for us!
Hugo Pepper, by Paul Stewart, illustrated by Chris Riddell published in the UK in 2006; first American edition 2007 by David Fickling Books
Previously, I’ve reviewed the first of this duo’s gleeful Far-Flung Adventures series — Fergus Crane. This title is the third in the series — a wild romp in Firefly Square.
Reindeer herders. Snow giants. Story collectors. Expert tea blenders. A couple of exotic mermaid sisters. Flying carpets and sleighs. A cruel and conniving newspaper man. Lost treasure.
Those are just a few of the delectable ingredients in this fizzing tale of adventure! Paul Stewart knows how to spin a fantastical story. The rambunctious plot is satisfying, and every sentence is plump with delicious words. Chris Riddell’s fantastic drawings bring these outlandish characters and scenes to life. His gorgeous penwork reminds me of Robert Lawson’s work. Every page is laid out to tantalize.
These are tremendous read-alouds. Independent readers will need to be savvy enough to negotiate the rapid-fire hopscotching as varied plot lines pop in and out. Probably age 9 and up. The books don’t have to be read in order although you will catch some allusions to the previous adventures if you do.