This fairly-simple picture book has no blood, gore, or crime – but a mystery needs to be solved with the very thorough assistance of Detective Small, thus, it seems like a good-enough fit for our Whodunit Theme for May/June.
Late last night, while the city was sleeping,
From market to market, a shadow came creeping.
The crook tiptoed past, pulled a mask on his face –
The perfect crime was about to take place!
What is this horrendous crime, you might wonder?
Missing bananas, dear friends! Not a single banana can be found “From Chinatown to Little Havana” – nada, they have disappeared from sight. Not in the grocery stores, nor the mercado. The community folks have summoned psychics, huge rewards offered – but no clue. “The trail had gone cold, every lead a dead end.” Thus, it is necessary to call on…Detective Small.
Who is Detective Small?
As the name implies, Detective Small is a wee bit tiny. Yet his powers of observation and his eye for detail are prodigious. While others gnashed their teeth and tore their hair out in exasperation, our smart detective found hairs and a shoe print and “a scrap of cloth snagged on a nail.”
I like how the images have tiny clues and funny captions if the reader is keen in looking at details. Older kids might appreciate the visual ‘wit’ more than the younger ones though. While the illustrations and the rhyming aspect of the narrative may not appeal to all types of audience, the strength of the book lies in the detective’s following through every missing clue ala CSI: sniffing out clues under the table, matching bootprints and animal hooves,
and having that eureka moment of insight after a ten-minute snooze. It is also not as clear-cut as you might have originally thought.
About the Author. Wong Herbert Yee was born in Detroit, Michigan and grew up with four sisters and two brothers. In his website, he shared that while life has not been all fun and games when he was young, he discovered that he could draw when one of his drawings was put up on display in their bulletin board when he was in first grade. That perhaps signaled the beginning of the end for him. Over the years, Yee has published a number of children’s books, one of which won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award in 2010. Click here to be taken to his ‘almost-wordless’ blog.
Detective Small in the Amazing Banana Caper by Wong Herbert Yee. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2007. Book borrowed from the community library.