Tuff Fluff: The Case of Duckie's Missing Brain


From the illustrator of THE BUGLIEST BUG and SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE DINOSAUR STOMP comes a delightful tongue-in-cheek mystery set in the shadowy corners of a toy-filled attic.

He might look like nothing more than a moth-eaten stuffed animal to you and me, but to the residents of Los Attic, this shabby rabbit in the Ace Moving Box is Tuff Fluff, Private Eye. So when the big blue teddy begs Tuff to help Duckie, a once commanding storyteller who now can do nothing but quack, the ...

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From the illustrator of THE BUGLIEST BUG and SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE DINOSAUR STOMP comes a delightful tongue-in-cheek mystery set in the shadowy corners of a toy-filled attic.

He might look like nothing more than a moth-eaten stuffed animal to you and me, but to the residents of Los Attic, this shabby rabbit in the Ace Moving Box is Tuff Fluff, Private Eye. So when the big blue teddy begs Tuff to help Duckie, a once commanding storyteller who now can do nothing but quack, the shrewd hare’s suspicions naturally arise. "Someone has been playing with this fowl," Tuff declares — and before you can say Dashiell Hammett, this hard-boiled detective is hot on the case! With a vibrantly retro flair, humorous visual details, and pun-filled prose, Scott Nash lures readers on the trail of a lovable, long-eared sleuth and his curious crew of discarded toys as they piece together a most peculiar puzzle.

When Duckie, a terry cloth duck, loses his brain and can no longer tell stories to the other toys, Tuff Fluff the private investigator must solve the case.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this soft-boiled detective story, based on a witty rivalry between beanbag toys and "stuffs," a terry-cloth duck literally loses his mind. Tuff Fluff, P.I., a plush rabbit whose eyepatch suggests a checkered past, takes the case from an unlikely dame: a carnival-prize blue teddy bear too big to fit in his office. "Relax, Ursa Major," Tuff tells her as he scrutinizes the empty space in Duckie's head. On a hunch, Tuff heads for hostile Beantown, where he senses the suspicious "stares of itty-bitty beanie eyes." "To the beans, stuffs were riffraff, the old toys," Tuff growls. "To us, beanbags were simply the newest batch of castoffs." Nevertheless, he befriends the citizenry and, with a cottony puff and one generously donated bean, transforms Duckie from a quacking simpleton to a pedant: "Gadzooks! Allow me to convey my sincere thanks to you heroic Samaritans," the duck effuses. Nash (The Bugliest Bug) places the toys in a noirish, forgotten realm called Los Attic, but they don't act pessimistic; Tuff mentions "a cute little flowered rabbit" from Beantown, although none is pictured. In the punchy gouaches, shadowy backdrops contrast with the toys' candy colors, which seem illumined by an interrogation lamp. Nash cleverly parodies the detective shtick with tight, pithy phrases and the lost-toy formula with his plot twists. Ages 6-9. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Tuff Fluff is a private investigator and sets out to solve the crime of Duckie's missing brain. Big Stuff, the super size teddy bear, is concerned for his duck friend who can only say, "quack." This might seem normal for a duck, but as Tuff Fluff soon learns, all stuffed ducks can talk just like Tuff Fluff and Big Stuff and the real truth is someone stole Duckie's brain right out of his head. This story goes on for a long time and Nash uses satire and tongue-in-check humor throughout the book that will probably go over the heads of young readers, but it will be enjoyed by adults reading the story aloud. I do think some of the mild violence could have been left out. For example, Tuff Fluff stands a stuff dog against a lamp post and says, "Spill the beans, Beanbag! Where's Duckies brain?" Tuff Fluff lives up to his name as he comes across as a hard-boiled detective. Maybe too hard-boiled in some parts. The illustrations are excellent and children will want to spend time looking at them. There are also some very funny parts in this book both in the illustrations and the text. All in all I think children will enjoy this book, and want to have it read aloud to them. It is very clever and introduces children to the genre of mysteries. 2004, Candlewick Press, Ages 6 to 8.
—Kathie M. Josephs
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Tuff Fluff, a yellow bunny with a rakish black eye patch, is the Chandleresque private eye enlisted to solve the mystery of Duckie's missing brain. He lives in Los Attic, the city of worn-out playthings, and works out of an office where it's always 3:29 a.m. by "the watch on the wall." Dwelling in cardboard cartons, the inhabitants of Los Attic have mismatched eyes and leak stuffing at the seams. They join forces to aid Tuff in his search; without his brain, Duckie can no longer speak, and all of the animals miss his storytelling. In fact, they are so keen to hear the end of his last tale that even the rivalry between the "beanbags" and the "stuffs" is forgotten in the quest. The contrast between Nash's 1930s' gumshoe writing style and the actual plot of toy animals anxiously searching for Duckie's stuffing is very funny. The illustrations, done in gouache and pencil, are bright and full of humorous details-a ceiling fan made from paper clips, a beauty parlor where a pink poodle styles a penguin, a Lego block lying in an alley. The book is divided into short chapters and the text is presented in two columns, a format that, along with the witty narrative, makes Tuff Fluff a particularly good choice for reluctant readers. Children will fall in love with this soft-boiled detective.-Jane Barrer, Washington Square Village Creative Steps, New York City Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Illustrator Nash flies solo with a plush-boiled whodunit set amidst the shadowed cardboard cartons of "Los Attic." Responding to the pleas of a big blue teddy bear with a voice "as thick and smooth as catsup," Flopsy Flips Rabbit, a.k.a. Tuff Fluff, P.I., hares off to find out why bookish Duckie has lost all of his words except "Quack." As it turns out, the stuffing in Duckie's head has taken a powder-but a trip into hostile Beantown ("There was no love lost between the beanbags and stuffs"), a flash of inspiration, and a bit of surgery later, Duckie's right as rain, and reciting Alice in Wonderland to a mixed crowd of admirers. Nash populates his moonlit mean streets with brightly colored, new-looking or neatly repaired toys, including a lagomorphic gumshoe with an eyepatch and exaggeratedly long, rumpled ears. Neither these pictures nor the overlong narrative capture the snappy tone of David Wisniewski's Tough Cookie (1999), Margie Palatini's Web Files (2001), or similar takeoffs, but still young readers will never regard their castoff beanie babies in quite the same light again. (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763618827
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2004
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.25 (w) x 11.13 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Nash is a designer and the celebrated illustrator of more than twenty picture books, including THE BUGLIEST BUG, SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE DINOSAUR STOMP, and MARTIAN ROCK, all written by Carol Diggory Shields. With TUFF FLUFF, his author-illustrator debut, "I was aiming to create the sort of fantastic dramas that kids might play out with a cast of stuffed animals and action figures," he says. Inspired by everything from the Uncle Wiggly and Raggedy Ann and Andy books to Underdog cartoons and graphic novels, Tuff Fluff is set "around the streets of Los Attic, a city that feels a little like Los Angeles stuck in a 1940s detective movie. The cast of misfit toys created delightful opportunities for parodying the dialogue and style of classic film noir."

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