The Great Garden Mystery by Renee Treml
Random House Australia Children's, 2014. ISBN: 9780857984166
Highly recommended for young readers aged 5 and up. Just over a year ago I had the distinct pleasure of reviewing Rene's second picture book, Colour for Curlews. I absolutely loved it - and I love this new one just as much.
There is great consternation in the garden. Someone is stealing the beetroots - who could it be? The two curious curlews reappear and assume the role of detectives and are enthusiastically 'helped' by the speculations of the other animals who either find incriminating clues such as square poos, a hole under the fence or tufts of fur or use their knowledge of character traits to fling around accusations so, as Fox is sneaky it could well be him. Following this maze of clues leads to a final accusation against Roo - who bounds away rather than stay to face this bush court (should that be kangaroo court?). The garden is tidied up, new seeds planted and all seems calm. That is, until nightfall when Wombat (in a reappearance from the two earlier books) wakes up, and sets off for more free veggies - especially beetroot!
This is a very amusing detective story for young readers and certainly could lead to some interesting classroom discussions about taking care when leaping to conclusions.
Once again I am very struck with Renee's illustrative techniques. In this new book, the characters themselves are quite monochromatic but the effect of them placed against coloured backgrounds in the double page spreads is really striking. The lovely endpapers with a trail of munched beetroots against the white space are similarly attractive.
Another picture book which lends itself particularly well to read-aloud sessions and no doubt much debate and discussion about who the guilty party might be, as well as introducing some judicial new vocabulary.
Visit Renee's website here and find teaching notes here.