THE CASE OF THE POACHED EGG:
A WILCOX & GRISWOLD MYSTERY
Written by Robin Newman
Illustrated by Deborah Zemke
(Creston Books; $15.95, Ages 4-8)
You’re eggspecting me to make yolks about this book, right? So here goes!
Eggceptionally funny, Robin Newman’s second Wilcox & Griswold mystery called The Case of the Poached Egg, will completely satisfy fans who’ve been hungry for a new installment following the duo’s Kirkus-starred first caper, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake.
The trench coat garbed Captain Griswold and the narrator Detective Wilcox are mice on the move. MFIs (Missing Food Inspectors) have to be. It’s an animals steal food kind of world. Always seeking justice for the over 100 creatures on Farmer Ed’s Farm, this pair will stop at nothing to crack a case. So, after taking an urgent call from Henrietta Hen upset over the apparent egg-napping of her “precious Penny,” Wilcox summons his superior to accompany him to the crime scene.
This 48-paged early chapter book not only breaks down the tale into six easily readable chapters, it also cleverly divides actions/events into time and place. For example, Wilcox and Griswold begin their investigation at 10:30am, at the Chicken Coop. There they not only encounter a distraught Henrietta, but an unusually written ransom note too. The game is afoot! I mean an egg! I mean, read on!
The determined MFIs uncover a motive and eventually a culprit, just in the nick of time, using the process of elimination, mounting clues such as a bunch of farm animals oversleeping, a red goose herring (!), thorough questioning of witnesses and possible suspects, and hand writing analysis. All this, which takes place against the backdrop of Farmer Ed’s Big Speggtacular, plus, the cast of colorful characters caught up in the shenanigans including Gabby Goose, Colonel Peck, Miss Rabbit and Porcini Pig makes for amusing dialogue as readers try to solve the mystery along with Wilcox and Griswold. And though, as an adult, I solved the case early on, kids will eat up the chance to play detective and read between the lines, something the format of this clever police procedural actively encourages.
I’m always pulled into a story when there’s a map included, and illustrator Zemke’s created a super one. Her expressive illustrations work wonderfully to add action and emotion to this humorous and accessible story, while also making the thought of reading a chapter book not as daunting for the younger crowd! NOTE: Parents who may read this book aloud should not miss the legal disclaimer on the front endpapers or the author’s note beginning with “No eggs, chickens, geese or roosters were harmed …” I’m ready for another serving of Wilcox & Griswold, yes, ready indeed!
TRUCKS, TRACTORS AND CARS:
A PICTURE BOOK ROUNDUP
Race Car Dreams
Written by Sharon Chriscoe
Illustrated by Dave Mottram
(Running Press Kids; $16.95, Ages 2-6)
A little race car settles down after a long, tiring day in this new going-to-bed book for little ones into all things automobile. It’s a quick read with approximately 200 words but it’s packed with cuteness! Adorable illustrations accompany the quiet rhyming text as the race car gets ready for bed and has sweet dreams. I’d highly recommend this book as a fun alternative to any animal-themed bedtime books. It’s sure to be a much requested going-to-bed story.
With Any Luck, I’ll Drive a Truck
Written by David Friend
Illustrated by Michael Rex
(Nancy Paulsen Books; $16.99, Ages 3-5)
This is a clever, witty book written from a young boy’s perspective about when he learned how to operate several trucks and big machines. It’s hilarious how the author gets you believing that at such a young age, this boy is using a cement mixer, backhoe, 18-wheeler … you name it and this boy has probably operated it! You come to find out they are all toy trucks he’s operated and his room is like a parking lot, but when he grows up he’d love to drive a truck. Great rhyme teaches about various large trucks, and wonderfully bold and bright illustrations make this book one of my new favorites!
Duck on a Tractor
Written and illustrated by David Shannon
(The Blue Sky Press/ Scholastic; $16.99, Ages 4-8)
Duck gets on a tractor, after all he rode a bike before! After pressing a few petals and trying various things he turned a “shiny little piece of metal by the steering wheel.” Pretty soon all the farm animals are hopping on for the ride, saying their regular animals sounds by thinking something different. The animals end up going onto the main road past the diner and it’s such a sight to see that nobody can quite believe all those animals are on a tractor. Yet once the diner crowd goes outside there’s no trace of the animals. The farmer must have just left the tractor on! Another great book from David Shannon with spectacular illustrations that are sure to enthrall kids ages 4-8.
Duck & Goose Go to the Beach by Tad Hills, (Schwartz & Wade Books 2014, $17.99, ages 3-7), is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.
Duck & Goose Go to the Beach by Tad Hills, Schwartz & Wade Books, 2014.
It’s summer, and Duck is eager to explore. Goose, however, is reluctant to leave their perfect little meadow with its tree stump, hollow log, stream, lily pond, and shady thicket.
“A TRIP? A trip sounds far away. I like close…An adventure? That sounds scary,” Goose honks.
But Duck is determined, and Goose grumpily follows him on their hike. When they arrive at the beach, Duck gets more than he bargained for. The waves are loud, the sand is hot, the ocean is big, and the beach dwellers are different. The beach isn’t what Duck expected, but it isn’t what Goose expected either, and, suddenly, he’s up for the adventure!
Goose stared at the vast stretch of sky, sand, and sea. “Isn’t it magnificent?” he said.
“Oh dear, the beach has SO MUCH water,” quacked Duck. “I feel tiny.”
“Have you ever seen SO MUCH sand?” honked Goose.
“It’s getting in my feathers, and it’s too hot on my feet,” said Duck. “Let’s go.”
“Go swimming? Good idea, Duck!” said Goose, and he raced to the water’s edge.
Duck & Goose Go to the Beach is a story of many levels. It presents the idea of having an adventure and doing something new. It deals with facing fears and being open to changing your mind. It’s a fun summer read. Most of all, it is charming and humorous. Duck and Goose are adorable characters. They are who they are, and that trait is so appealing to young readers (and their parents).
The oil paint artwork is almost too cute. The images of the feathered friends running down the hill and peeking over the sand dune are picture perfect. The artwork adds to the massive appeal of the book.
Whether they’re in a meadow, at the beach, or in your home, your kids will delight in Duck and Goose.
Baby Animal Farm by Karen Blair is reviewed by MaryAnne Locher.
Baby Animal Farm written and illustrated by Karen Blair, Candlewick Press, 2014.
Come along, and bring a picnic lunch! We’re headed off to the Baby Animal Farm, (Candlewick Press, board book $6.99, Ages 0-3) written and illustrated by Karen Blair. It’s never too early to start developing an appreciation for books, and this one is sure to be a crowd pleaser with its traditional story line and pleasing illustrations done in lithographic crayon and water color.
Blair starts the story on the cover of the book where one of the diverse group of toddlers has unknowingly dropped his teddy bear. What a great time the friends have following in a row like baby ducks, chasing baby chicks and feeding a lamb from a bottle, all before lunchtime. There are no adults shown in this board book, just five independent little ones who settle down for a healthy lunch of fruit, cheese, and what appears to be a rice cake, while watchful puppy looks on from a distance.
After lunch, it’s back to petting and patting the kittens, piglet, and calf, until one youngster discovers he’s lost his teddy. Your little reader will love it when puppy saves the day and shows up with the teddy bear. It’s fun but tiring playing with all those baby animals and learning all the sounds they make …
Cuddle the kittens.
Mew, mew, mew.
Pat the piglet.
Oink, oink, oink.
Touch the calf.
Moo, moo, moo.
Which is why at the end of the book five sleepy toddlers go Zzz…Zzz…Zzz…
Meet Baby Animals on The Day They Are Born
With A Book of Babies by Il Sung Na
& reviewed by MaryAnne Locher
A Book of Babies by Il Sung Na, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2014.
Spring is just around the corner. It’s the time when bulbs blossom into flowers, leaves sprout from buds on tree branches, and baby animals are born.
Take a journey around the world with a duck who has just become the father of five noisy ducklings. You’ll see many different animals in this beautifully illustrated picture book, A Book of Babies by Il Sung Na (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15.99, Ages 0-3) and your little ones will learn that some are hatched, some are not; some have scales, some have fur; there are single births, and multiple births; and daddys sometimes play a bigger role than mommys in raising their young (as in the case of the seahorse), but at the end of the day, all types of babies must go to sleep. Father duck comes home after his adventures and finds that even his noisy ducklings get sleepy.
A Book of Babies is a perfect gift for a new parent, soon-to-be big brother or sister, and would also be a sweet, but healthy addition to any Easter basket. Sparse, but lyrical text, and illustrations done in all the colors of the rainbow, make this the perfect book to hold the attention of even the youngest ‘reader.’