Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This "cunning twist" on the traditional alphabet book offers a "full-fledged whodunit that is solved by the book's end," said PW. Ages 3-7. (May)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Crime doesn't pay as readers learn when they romp through the alphabet trying to find the thief and stolen picture. Clues abound in the pictures and text, and most everyone will soon solve the case, but it is still great fun for those just learning their ABCs and for those who just want to enjoy an amusing story. 1996 (orig.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
PreS-K-A clever, mini-mystery romp through the alphabet that begins, ``A is the Art that was stolen at night.'' Detective Inspector McGroom takes on the case and tracks down the missing painting. Each letter is given a full page and all but two (``X is the kiss...'' and ``Z is asleep...'') have a word that begins with the letter. Most entries move the mystery along. There are occasional red herrings, such as K is a kilted bagpiper alongside the road and N is the number of steps. The rhyming couplets hold up well enough to please a read-aloud audience, but it is the illustrations that are sure to delight children. Bright cartoon creatures skillfully rendered with either subtle acrylics or very bold watercolors with pen-and-ink detail carry out the action. Although a badger, a wombat, and an aardvark have the lead roles, bemused mice add a charming touch. Cushman has created a fun alphabet for the young, who will like the rhyme and love the artwork. With such competition as Suse MacDonald's Alphabatics (Macmillan, 1986), Jim Aylesworth's Old Black Fly (Holt, 1992), Chris Van Allsburg's The Z Was Zapped (Clarion, 1987), and Bill Martin and John Archambault's Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (S.&S., 1989), it is hard to insist on its addition, but it would be a shame to pass by this fresh approach to the ABCs.-Jody McCoy, Casady School, Oklahoma City
This alphabet book becomes a primer on the elements of classic mysteries when a badger solves the case of a stolen painting. The short, rhyming text skips along through the alphabet: ""A" is the Art that was stolen at night. "B" is the Butler, who sneaks out of sight. "C" is the Clue that's left in the room. "D" is Detective Inspector McGroom." Some of the British vocabulary may be unfamiliar to American children--""K" is the Kilt" and ""M" is the Manor," for instance. However, expressive color drawings, with touches of melodrama and humor, a parade of interesting animal characters, and a predictable solution will win interest. Use this volume as a kickoff for mystery units in the primary grades, and watch your sleuths uncover entertaining reading.