New series for younger readers…The cryptic casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta

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The perplexing pineapple. Written by Ursula Dubosarsky, with puzzles and illustrations by Terry Denton. (The cryptical casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta; book 1). Published by Allen and Unwin, May 2013. Paperback, 84 pages. ISBN:9781743312575 NZ$15.99

OTHER TITLES IN THE SERIES 

The Looming Lamplight – June 2013

The Missing Mongoose – July 2013

Synopsis:

Buenos Aires’ Chief of Police, Coco Carlomagno, is sure his office high in the Obelisco is haunted. Every day at the same time he sees a floating pineapple and every day he hears a terrible noise. What could it mean? Who could it be? There’s only one guinea pig Coco can turn to to help him in his hour of need: his logic-loving cousin Alberta. Can Alberta help him unravel the mysteries of the perplexing pineapple?

Ursula Dubosarsky has created a fun mystery series for younger readers (6-8 year olds) featuring what she says are three of her favourite things…”They often tell you in writing classes – write about something you love. Well, three things I love are guinea pigs, detective stories and the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. And I’m happy to say in this series of books, the three loves have come together.”

The books are short, divided into 6 chapters and interwoven with hand drawn illustrations. Throughout the text there are small word puzzles (rebus puzzles) for the reader to solve. Some of the younger readers may need help with these, especially with spelling. If children seem interested after completing these, a simple google search for Rebus Puzzles would find more that could be printed off and completed. Lots of fun to be had, especially if children are encouraged to make up their own puzzles and clues to share with their friends and siblings.

Cryptic-Casebook-activity

The story also features sporadic words in Spanish, enough to lend an exotic feel to the story in context and not too difficult to work out the meaning. The definitions and a brief description of the meaning is included on each page where the Spanish word appears. I like this simple introduction to footnotes for this age group.

Overall, I thought this a sweet series, nothing too onerous or challenging for the target audience and pitched at the right level – there is nothing scary about the mystery. I will be adding these to the collection of early chapter books I have in my library. These will also be useful for the struggling readers at age 8-9 who enjoy humorous animal stories and are looking for new stories to help them with reading mileage.

Thank you to Allen & Unwin for supplying me with an advance copy for review. I was delighted to find that this book is included in this months Scholastic Junior Chapter Book standing order.

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