Review: Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson

Detective Gordon the First Case by Ulf Nilsson

Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte Spee (InfoSoup)

When a squirrel discovers that some of his nuts are missing one winter night, he heads straight to the police station where Detective Gordon, Chief of Police, can help him. But when he gets there, no one seems to be around until he finds the great detective fast asleep on his paperwork with cake crumbs all around. Once awoken though, Detective Gordon heads out to help solve the crime. But it’s a very cold night and Detective Gordon can’t climb to the hole in the tree to see the crime scene. When he stands watch, he manages to freeze solid. That’s when a little mouse steals one nut from the tree and ends up helping Gordon back to his warm police station. The little mouse is soon named Buffy and settles into the police station as an assistant to Gordon. She can scramble up trees and seems to have a knack for crime solving too. It doesn’t hurt that it’s all accompanied with lots of warmth, tea and cakes. But who is stealing the nuts? Will they strike again? And how can one very young mouse and one old toad figure it all out?

Translated from the original Swedish, this book is a toasty little joy. It has gorgeous elements to it, filled with small touches that bring it entirely to life. From the various cakes for each time of day and the delight at discovering each new flavor to the pleasure both Buffy and Gordon get from stamping each document when its completed, this book is perfect for quiet and cozy crime fighters and detectives. The mystery is just right for small children and the cozy nature of the story makes this an idea bedtime read. The descriptions are vivid, enhancing the strong feeling of a woodsy community as a whole.

Spee’s illustrations add to the snug feeling of the story. She creates fires that glow with a halo of warmth, cakes that line up with plenty for everyone, and beds that are stacked with eiderdown. It is all very domestic and wonderful and also has a little humor mixed in, just like the story itself. The full-color illustrations make this a perfect book to move young readers and listeners to longer books.

A pleasure of a book, this cozy mystery for children is clearly European in origin which adds to the fun. Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Gecko Press.

Review: Trapped! by Robert Burleigh

Trapped by Robert Burleigh

Trapped!: A Whale’s Rescue by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Wendell Minor (InfoSoup)

A wild whale is jumping, swimming and enjoying lots of krill to eat in the ocean waters. But then she runs into discarded netting from a crab fisherman floating in the water. The net catches her, cutting into her mouth and making swimming difficult. The a boat motor sound comes and along with it a group of humans who are hoping to rescue the huge animal. But it is so dangerous being near an animal of that size where even small motions can cause injuries to the rescuers. Still, they work close to the whale and begin to cut her free. They swim away if necessary and touch her with gentleness and care. Eventually the ropes and netting fall away and the whale is free to swim again. To say thanks, she gently touches each of her human rescuers before jumping for joy.

Burleigh’s text contains lots of information but it is presented through the lens of a story. This is a tale of one very fortunate whale, rescued in time from the netting. It is a story of wild freedom at first and then a desperate struggle and then impossible hope that she will survive after all. This is a real drama played out on the pages, from the danger to the whale to then the danger to her rescuers solely from her size. The final pages of the book offer resources about rescuing trapped whales and talk more about the dangers and about the whales themselves too.

Minor’s art is luscious on the page, taking readers under the water alongside the whale. There we float as the water changes colors and the light changes. Minor makes sure the show the size of the whale and of the humans on the same page, so that children will understand the size of the animal. It is beautifully and touchingly done.

An inspiring tale of the difference that even a small group of people can make in sustainability and saving animals, this picture book is a compelling mix of story and fact. Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.