The Great Garden Mystery by Renee Treml

cover image

Random House, 2014. ISBN 9780857984166
(Age: Early childhood) Who is stealing the beetroot from the garden? Is it hare or horse, cockatoo or koala, or maybe even bilby? With two curious curlews (from her previous book) leading the investigation, the animals decide to find the culprit using the clues that have been left. First is a square poo; a hole underneath the fence is another; and a patch of fur left behind is yet another. One by one each suspect is ruled out, but the finger is pointed at Roo who seems to confirm her guilt by bounding away. So the garden is repaired and all is well, until night time comes . . .  and the real thief gets hungry and comes visiting again!
This is the third book from Ms Treml that I have reviewed and once again, she has delivered a story that works on all levels. From the clever illustrations such as the hare's eye being magnified to the information tidbits embedded in the story through to the subtle references to her previous characters, this is another winner. Proof of that came when I shared it with a Year 1 class recently, the same class who, as Kindy Kids heard Colour for Curlews about a year ago, and one little fellow not yet known for his literacy mastery immediately recognised and remembered the curlews and was very quick to come and whisper who he thought the thief was - and he was right! Something clearly resonated with him and when I asked him, he said he remembered the pictures, and he knew he was going to like this story too . . . You can read more about how these are created on her website. The children delighted in solving the clues along with the characters and like them, they were originally fooled by the conclusion they drew. All is not necessarily what it seems.
This is the third picture book from this author/illustrator and hopefully there will be many more to come. I know a seven-year-old who will be looking forward to them! In the meantime teachers' notes are available.
Barbara Braxton