Bunny Brown and Jack Jones, ace detectives, join forces again to solve their third easy-reader mystery in this snappy new series from Newbery Medalist Rylant, author of the beloved Henry and Mudge books. Bunny the bunny is the practical brains of the detective duo, and Jack the raccoon is her humorous sidekick, who is even funnier in this book than in the previous volumes, The Case of the Missing Monkey (not reviewed) and The Case of the Climbing Cat (2000). In this case, Bunny and Jack solve the chronic disappearance (and reappearance) of a trombone from a neighborhood music store. The puzzling possum of the title, Freddy, has been repeatedly "borrowing" the trombone so he can play at hayride entertainments with Gus's Big Brass Boys. Bunny and Jack nab him red-handed, and Bunny offers the practical solution of paying for the trombone by giving lessons at the music store. The combination easy-reader, easy-mystery follows the established format of a few clues, a mild neighborhood mystery, and lots of clever puns and jokes that will delight the intended audience. The humor is exactly on track for the early elementary grades, including a squashed marshmallow on Jack's seat and a quick rush to the bathroom following some dizzying explanations by the music-store owner (just the sort of jokes first graders adore). Karas's engaging illustrations in acrylic, gouache, and pencil help create unique personalities for Bunny and Jack. It's no mystery why this series is successful, and this endearing duo seems destined to crack many more cases of minor mischief in their urban neighborhood. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2001

ISBN: 0-688-16308-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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Policeman Jack’s cat and dog team, Kitty and Belle, are an unusual crime-busting duo: Kitty is a shrewd mouser, while lazy Belle would rather sleep. When a wily burglar picks the lock and breaks into Policeman Jack’s house, Kitty jumps on top of the thief’s head, while Belle rouses from a nap to growl and chase the burglar out the door. They are rewarded with a TV appearance on the nightly news. In a tale told entirely in verse, the entrance of the burglar functions more as a device to break up the monotony than for building suspense or creating comedy. O’Malley saves the day with his portraits of the highly personable pets, including one picture of the appropriately sleepy Belle, bloodshot eye open amidst folds of fur. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8167-4952-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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Though the text has some amateurish didacticism, this cheerful piece has charm.

Case One: The Missing Friendship Bracelet

From the Splunkunio Splunkey Detective and Peacemaker series

Simple, appealing photographs of puppets in a house illustrate this homespun tale about a lost bracelet and a fight between friends.

Ellie Elephant, who wears embroidered jeans and a dungaree cap, is heartbroken because her friendship bracelet is lost and her best friend Eli has gone home angry. Suddenly, her phone rings and a mysterious voice proclaiming to be “a detective and a peacemaker” offers help. She agrees, blinks her eyes three times and meets Splunkunio Splunkey, a tall (compared to puppet-sized elephants), brightly colored alien. They call Eli, who’s still mad but agrees to come over and help retrace the steps that led to the disappearance of the bracelet. Splunkey takes the two elephants through their activities from earlier that day: hide-and-seek, Eli getting stuck under a bed, the bracelet’s sudden disappearance and the yelling and accusations. Of course they find the bracelet and make up, but a plot that could be stale is freshened by the enjoyable photographs and Splunkey’s quirky diction (“ ‘I need to scramdoodle ’cause I’m in a time crunch’ ”; “ ‘Then again, since this case was a piece of cake, how about giving me a piece of cake?’ ”). Each page features two vertical columns of text, one in English and one in Spanish.

Though the text has some amateurish didacticism, this cheerful piece has charm. (4-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-9744812-1-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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