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The Case of the Poached Egg: A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery by Robin Newman

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!


  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel



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Flashback Friday – What Really Happened to Humpty? by Joe Dumpty as told to Jeanie Franz Ransom

From The Files of a Hard-Boiled Detective

Booklist “Starred Review”

Winner of the 2011 “Children’s Choice” Award for the state of New Mexico

What Really Happened to Humpty? by Joe Dumpty as told to Jeanie Franz Ransom with illustrations by Stephen Axelsen, Charlesbridge, 2009.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a huge egg fan, see. They can be real smooth at times, make you think they’re one thing, when they’re really another. I like that in an egg. Hard-boiled, sunny-side up, over-easy, scrambled, but my all time favorite is the Humpty-Dumpty kind, especially served up fresh in a Film Noir or Dragnet-style kind-of way.

First reviewed in 2009, today we’re revisiting What Really Happened To Humpty? by Joe Dumpty as told to Jeanie Franz Ransom (Charlesbridge, paperback $7.95, Ages 6-9) with illustrations by Stephen Axelsen. The tale, recounted tongue-in-cheek (can you say that for an egg story?) by Humpty’s hard-boiled detective brother Joe, opens like this:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Humpty Dumpty was pushed.

What Really Happened to Humpty? interior spread, © 2009, Charlesbridge

Now if that hasn’t got you itchin’ (you’re not allergic to eggs, are you?) to find out more … This clever, easy-to-read book simply cracked me up with its puns, plot and pictures. The mystery revolves around poor pushed Humpty, a pair of binoculars and a big wind. Readers’ appetites for a good, hearty romp around Mother Gooseland is whet by some well known personalities from childhood. The cast of possible culprits includes the Muffin Man, Old Mother Hubbard, Little Miss Muffet or Muffy, Spider, Goldie (as in Locks) and Chicken Little.

I really can’t tell much more without giving away all the good gags, but suffice it to say that its ending will leave readers satisfied. Kids will be happy that Humpty survives intact and his brother Joe, now vindicated for having solved the crime, can move on to new, more pressing business like helping Bo Peep find those missing sheep.

Click here to preview the book.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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