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Chapter Book Review – Detective Gordon: A Case with a Bang

 

DETECTIVE GORDON:
A Case with a Bang

Written by Ulf Nilsson

Illustrated by Gitte Spee

Translated by Julia Marshall

(Gecko Press; $18.99, Ages 5-11)

 

 

Detective_Gordon_A_Case_with_a_bang_cover_toad_mouse_squirrel_troll Detective Gordon A Case with a bang cover toad mouse squirrel troll

 

 

Originally written in Swedish, A Case with a Bang is the final installment in late author Ulf Nilsson’s Detective Gordon series. The story centers on the mouse and toad duo of Chief Detective Buffy and retired police Chief Detective Gordon. This time around they are joined by their young squirrel friend Helmer who wishes to learn all there is about being a police officer. And they certainly do have a case to solve as someone has been making noise with Badger’s trash can in the middle of the night and this must be investigated.

 

A Case with a Bang int1 Chap5 Buffy Becomes Flat
Interior illustration from Detective Gordon: A Case with a Bang written by Ulf Nilsson and illustrated by Gitte Spee, Gecko Press ©2023.

 

Illustrator Gitte Spee has captured the gentleness of the story with colorful drawings that young readers will enjoy. A two-page spread of a map of Chief Detective Buffy’s police district shows all the landmarks that are important to the plot: Badger’s cottage (the scene of the original offense), the police station (where Buffy and Gordon live), the bakery, the kindergarten, the cave and so forth. That it is young Helmer who plays an integral part in solving the case in the end, will resonate with the intended audience, who will see themselves portrayed in the success of their contemporary whereas the adults in the story initially failed.

Divided into twelve chapters, translator Julia Marshall does a fine job of making it accessible to the American market, while still retaining the original flavor of its European roots.

 

A Case with a Bang int2 Map of Chief Detective Buffy's Police District
Interior illustration from Detective Gordon: A Case with a Bang written by Ulf Nilsson and illustrated by Gitte Spee, Gecko Press ©2023.

 

More than just a mystery, this book contains simple nuggets of wisdom and life lessons interspersed throughout. These gems are not alluded to; they are stated outright in bolded, centered text as every case that has been solved has important notes written about them, before being stamped and tucked away in a drawer for future reference. Some of this reviewer’s favorites are: If it doesn’t work one way, it will work another; Always ask someone who knows; Everyone thinks differently: listen carefully to all; and the final one of the book, which is, appropriately: There is always a good ending. In every story. And in real life. If one is open to everything.

This intelligent book is equally recommended for the advanced younger reader to read independently or for adults to read aloud to young charges who appreciate a story told with both subtle humor and depth.

  • Reviewed by Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili

 

 

Here’s a sneak peek video:

 

 

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Chapter Book Review – Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest

 

DULCINEA IN THE FORBIDDEN FOREST

Written and illustrated by Ole Könnecke

Translated from German by Shelley Tanaka

(Gecko Press; $14.24, Ages 5-9)

 

Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest

 

 

In Ole Könnecke’s modern fairy tale, Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest, Dulcinea’s father goes missing on her birthday. Though she’s promised to never enter the forest (because of the witch), Dulcinea follows her father’s footprints into this forbidden place and soon discovers he’s been turned into a tree. “Dulcinea wasn’t going to let an old witch spoil her birthday,” so she sets off to find the witch and reverse the spell even though “nobody enjoys walking through an enchanted forest.”

 

Dulcinea int1
Interior illustration from Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest written and illustrated by Ole Könnecke, Gecko Press ©2021.

 

This chapter book is full of laughs, from the absentminded witch who carries her book of magic because she can’t remember her spells, to the comical depiction of Father as a tree. The determined expression on Dulcinea’s face contrasts with the silly-looking witch and monsters in her moat.

 

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Interior spread from Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest written and illustrated by Ole Könnecke, Gecko Press ©2021.

 

I like how this fairy tale is both a new story yet resonates with a classic feel. The limited earthy palate contributes a homey feel because, as we know, we’ve all been lost in the forest in a previous tale or two. Overall, this is a well-made, timeless book.

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