Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson and Gitte Spee
|Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson and Gitte Spee|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A great little adventure, with a pleasant simplicity and ageless charm.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 96||Date: March 2015|
|Publisher: Gecko Press|
Vladimir is not happy. Someone has been at his nuts. Yes, out of his stores of several thousand nuts, Vladimir the squirrel has been robbed of a couple hundred, and if the truth be known he's not the first in the forest. But at least he's gone for the help of Detective Gordon, the police authority throughout the woodland. Tasked with making sure it was a crime of note, and of solving it if necessary, Gordon has got serious, and staked out Vladimir's pantry until he's frozen solid. Which is not good when you're a toad. But even with his many years of experience behind him, Gordon could never predict what happens after he sees someone steal a further nut from the stash…
It takes a little bravura (and some biological improbability) to twin a toad detective, a mouse assistant and a squirrel victim in a crime story, and to get away with it. Ulf Nilsson has apparently clocked up a hundred titles, generally for a very young audience, so there's no shortage of experience and expertise in presenting what might seem unlikely. Still, age is no guarantee of wit and charm, but rest assured, this book has both. I loved the running gag of the authoritative stamp that Gordon uses in his officialdom, and when the hard facts of the crime are tempered with a cop who can hardly stay awake, the regulation cakes the police eat throughout the day, and the fact they both sleep side by side in the police station's prison cell to comfort each other – well, what heart would really try to resist?
Equal to the warmth of the story in my appreciation was the care of the publisher – thick paper, non-justified typeset for ease of reading, and a lovely use of pastel backgrounds to both differentiate the chapter openings as well as complement the artwork, all prove detail has been covered throughout. That artwork was not quite perfect for me – the line too fluid and free, meaning Vladimir looked really odd and ungainly, all long limbs, flapping arms and protuberant tufty ears, but the set-out of the book is wonderful, with something to illuminate every spread.
I'd say that the final reckoning would hold both author and artist equally responsible for the character each animal bears, which creates alongside the situation of the plot and the cleverness of its resolution a most pleasurable read. It won't change the world, and it's going to be deemed too silly once the reader hits, ooh, let's say twelve, but there's still something quite amusing and charming to be had before then. If this is the first in a series – and all indication suggests it could well have been designed as such – then the rest cannot come into English quickly enough.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone features a very different forest again - one home to something much more fantasy-based.
You can read more book reviews or buy Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson and Gitte Spee at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson and Gitte Spee at Amazon.com.
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