July 27, 2016

Mystery in Children’s Books



Raven Mysteries2

Mystery, Magic and Adventure

Who doesn’t love a little bit of mystery, magic and adventure? The element of mystery leading up to the reveal is a perfect way to engage a young reader keen to solve the case! Similar to the three steps of a magic trick with a perfect sequence of pledge, turn and prestige, the right mystery book can provide the same wow factor. Going on quests, capturing ghosts, solving mysteries involving missing quacks, the disappearance of famous portraits, all provide suspense and action, and can be scintillating, thrilling and rewarding. We think of Richard Scarry’s classic The Great Pie Robbery and Other Mysteries; E.L. Konisburg’s American classic (first published in 1967) From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler; Enid Blyton’s ‘The Famous Five’ and ‘The Secret Seven’, not forgetting the Ahlbergs’ Burglar Bill. Lauren Child’s wonderful Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent where the young child genius multimillionaire investigates the strange goings on in his mansion also stands out as a wonderful children’s mystery book. What better way to spark young readers’ interest and ignite their imagination than a ‘who dunnit?’ story with a gripping narrative and captivating illustrations!

For any junior sleuths out there, we have some exciting edge-of-your seat reads, which could all be described as ‘cosy crime’ – suspenseful tales of mystery, mischief and mayhem with some unexpected twists.

For the 0-2 book enthusiasts there’s a lot to spark your curiosity in Yusuke Yonezu’s striking board book Guess Who? The book invites young readers to guess the animal on each page.

For the 2-4 age group there are some marvellous books focused on finding, spotting and going in search of adorable creatures. Following on from Barroux’s wonderful Where’s the Elephant? comes Where’s the Starfish?, which is a surprisingly clever take on the usual ‘find it’ books for this age group, especially as it is a wordless book with striking illustrations and provides a ‘Where’s Wally’ type set up to keep younger readers on their toes.

Quack Quack Quentin is the latest vibrant and educational picturebook from dynamic duo Kes Gray and Jim Field (the makers of Oi Frog and Too Many Legs). Quentin duck has lost his quack and goes on a quest to find it. This picturebook is ideal for emerging readers and children learning to spell. And Julia Donaldson fans will celebrate the publication of her latest picturebook The Detective Dog.

Officer Panda Fingerprint Detective

Young detectives aged 4-6 might want to keep a look out for a black and white bear … From author-illustrator Ashley Crawford comes his début the adorable Officer Panda: Fingerprint Detective. One of T.S. Eliot’s best-loved poems is brought to life by Arthur Robins’s artwork in this fantastic picturebook, Macavity the Mystery Cat. Follow the cat considered ‘the Napoleon of Crime’ on his escapades.

For 7-8 year old readers there’s a lot to choose from, including the quirky ‘Raven Mysteries’ by Marcus Sedgwick. Canine and feline fans will love Andrew Cope’s ‘Spy Dog’, ‘Spy Pup’ and ‘Spy Cat’ series featuring Lara, Shakespeare and friends.

This summer forget about packing a stylish hat, shades, a magnifying glass, note book, pen and dusting powder, just capture your quarry with a good mystery story … just ensure you end on a cliff hanger! Happy reading.

The Detective Dog

The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
‘Peter’s dog Nell had a keen sense of smell’. Everyone loves Peter’s dog Nell and are amazed this canine’s amazing nose for detecting lost objects. So when the school books go missing, everyone turns to ‘the Detective Dog’. With Donaldson’s imitable lyrical and poetic text matched by Sara Ogilvie’s expressive illustrations, this latest tale about a detective with a tail is sure to be a hit! Another hit focusing on the joy of reading, friendship and a very special dog.

Officer Panda: Fingerprint Detective by Ashley Crawford
This striking picturebook début is sure to please – even the cover of Officer Panda on his bicycle will instantly draw readers in. When mysterious fingerprints appear around the neighbourhood, there’s no better bear for the job. With a humorous and informative ‘Did you know’ section at the back, including details about finger prints. (Note that the next Officer Panda: Sky Detective is coming out in December – just in time for the Yuletide Season. Follow this observant panda as he takes to the sky in a helicopter to solve another case.)

The Raven Mystery by Marcus Sedgwick, illustrated by Pete Williamson
There’s never a dull moment for the Otherhand family pet, Edgar the Raven, as he solves many mysteries in their ‘haunted’ mansion, including mysterious disappearances of staff members, the strange sightings of ghosts floating in the corridors and monsters in the basement. Sedgwick’s quirky text is complemented by Pete Williamson’s black and white gothic illustrations which are reminiscent of both Edward Gorey and Chris Riddle. With six books in the series, this mystery series is a great collection for young detectives.

Written by Síne Quinn, a Children’s Books Ireland Book Doctor with an M.Phil in Children’s Literature. Sine is also an editor and writing coordinator for the Bookmarks Programme at TCD and a campaign coordinator for College Awareness Week.

The CBI Book Clinic continues its nationwide tour in Tipperary and is the perfect place to bring the young readers in your family to during August. The Book Doctor will be writing up book prescriptions:
August: Terryglass Arts Festival, Terryglass Co. Tipperary 21st August
September: Electric Picnic, Stradbally Hall, Co. Laois
Saturday 3rd September / Sunday 4th September
Aspects Arts Festival 24th September

The Book Clinic is always free of charge. For more information visit http://www.childrensbooksireland.ie/events

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