BEST OF

A Complicated Case

tr. from Swedish by Julia Marshall. illus. by Gitte Spee. (Detective Gordon: Bk. 2). Gecko. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781776570591.
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Gr 1–4—Detective Gordon (a bumbling toad) and his protégé, Buffy (a cheerful mouse), tackle cases involving missing cake tins and an unidentified neighborhood bully. As the diminutive creature is taught the rules of the trade—from "investigate everything" to "be prepared to be eaten up!"—readers will quickly discern who the ace gumshoe truly is. A genial introduction to chapter books and an affectionate duo, featuring colorful, lissome art.
In their second case, Detective Gordon (an elderly toad) and Police Assistant Buffy (a young mouse) investigate who has been saying "nasty things" to fellow forest creatures. As before, the friends' application of the law is just. Humor and affection in the text and illustrations (loose black line drawings with washes of warm color) make for a thoughtful but light-handed exploration of bullying.
In their second case (Detective Gordon: The First Case, rev. 5/15), Detective Gordon (an elderly toad feeling his age) and Police Assistant Buffy (a young mouse determined to prove herself) face the issue of bullying. Someone has been saying "nasty things" to fellow forest creatures. The victims are too afraid to identify the culprit, so Gordon and Buffy investigate-not only who is doing the bullying, but why. The truth of the situation is, indeed, more complicated than it first appears, and as before, Gordon and Buffy's application of the law is just and compassionate. During the investigation, Gordon contemplates the distinctions between intentional nastiness, accidental "un-nice"-ness, and thoughtlessness, and the partners 'fess up to occasional unkindness of their own. "Police must always tell the truth," after all, and "must always investigate themselves." Text and illustrations alike are full of humor and affection, making for a thoughtful but light-handed exploration of the topic. By case's end Buffy has earned a promotion (and learned to read) and Gordon has embarked on a much-needed vacation, leaving things in Buffy's capable paws. Loose black line drawings with washes of warm color portray the friends, their cozy home, and the forest community they serve and protect. katie bircher

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