Today I’ve got two delightful mysteries for the youngest of sleuths.
The first one took me quite by surprise! I picked it up from my hold shelf at the library and the size and heft of it tricked me into thinking it was your Average Ordinary piece of fiction for elementary age kids.
Leave it to Brian Selznick to bust open genre categories once again!
Baby Monkey, Private Eye, by Brian Selznick and David Serlin
published in 2018 by Scholastic Press
As I casually began leafing through the opening pages, the first thing I ran into was this:
And then this:
And then this full-spread, Selznickian piece of magic:
Before the giant-size, clear-as-a-bell, text continues:
Yup, my friends, what we have here is an easy–reader-graphic-novel-picture-book-chapter-book mash-up!
After a bit of preamble, we reach a Table of Contents listing five chapters, quite a satisfying prospect for a beginning reader’s ego. Each chapter consists of a different mystery for our happy monkey to solve.
With an extremely low word count, a pleasing use of repetition, friendly monkey, and Selznick’s trademark graphite masterpieces, the book ripples along with humor and zest for 186 impressive pages.
Each mystery involves a change of decor in the detective’s office, with multiple pieces of artwork correlating to the setting of the crime sketched in cleverly by Selznick. Grown-ups can put on their own thinking caps as they survey the room, attempting to identify the references. A key to each scene at the end of the book reveals exactly what those pieces are. Don’t miss, as well, the hilarious, cunning Bibliography and Index.
I would not want to figure out where to shelve this in a bookstore, but I would happily plunk it in my child’s Read This stack. I am especially keen on easy-to-read books which are more sophisticated in style for the many older-than-usual beginning readers. Read it aloud to little ones or hand it to burgeoning readers. Ages 3 and up.
Detective Nosegoode and the Music Box Mystery, written by Marian Orton, illustrated by Jerzy Flisak, translated from the Polish by Eliza Marciniak
first published in 1968; U.S. edition published by Pushkin Press in 2018
Ambrosius Nosegoode is a crackerjack detective, now retired and living with his able assistant, a dog named Cody, in the genteel town of Lower Limewood.
He is called upon to solve a particularly puzzling crime, however, when Mr. Swallowtail’s beloved music box is stolen from the repair shop of Ignatius Blossom. Cody is quite sure it has something to do with a mysterious bearded gentlemen who appears to be lurking in the neighborhood.
Mr. Nosegoode, however, is a careful, painstaking detective who doesn’t leap to such hasty conclusions! He uses his powerful magnifying glass, his keen attention to detail, clever questions and smart deductions to track down the thief.
Such a delightful character, charming setting, peppy style, and dapper illustrations come our way in this vintage Polish bestseller. Nothing dark about it, which makes it a prime candidate for reading aloud to children ages 6 and up or handing to a stout reader — the vocabulary is advanced. Two more Detective Nosegoode volumes are available this year so don’t delay — make your acquaintance now!