Saturday, September 17, 2011

Little Boy Detective Blue

Little Boy Detective Blue 
Illustrated by Tedd Arnold 
Orchard Books/New York, An Imprint of Scholastic Inc., 2011

As a former “Little Boy Blue” in my Hickory Dickory Dock Nursery School class, I have always had a special connection to the famed trumpet-playing, napping child tending to his livestock. Steve Metzger’s book Little Boy Detective Blue has only help amplify that love as we watch the older Little Boy Blue solve mysteries of the whole Mother Goose nursery rhyme family.

The book begins with an introduction from Detective Blue. He let's us know that he had once blown a horn and took care of cows and sheep. He is quick to inform us that was the past, and presently he is a detective at the Blue Detective Agency. His first major work came after the Dish ran away with the Spoon. He "cleaned up that situation in time for lunch" and washed them both up in the sink. Detective Blue's second case was nabbing Mary's lamb before he could sneak into school with her. Blue proclaims, "You can't pull the wool over my eyes!" Suddenly, Detective Blue sees Jack Sprat running down the street shouting, "Miss Muffet is missing! Miss Muffet is missing!" Here is Detective Blue's major case--to find the missing Miss Muffet. 

Detective Blue begins at the scene of the crime. All that remained was a tuffet, a spiderweb, and a bowl full of curds and whey. He continues his investigation by interviewing Little Bo Peep, Humpty Dumpty, and Jack Horner. Jack, when asked about Miss Muffet's whereabouts thumbed a plum and said, "What a good boy am I!" Detective Blue was not having this. He demanded answers! Finally, Jack told Blue to try at Old King Cole's castle since Miss Muffet was such a lover of music. At Old King Cole's castle, a grand celebration was underway. The fiddlers were playing "Hickory Dickory Rock" and Jack Be Nimble was jumping the candlestick. While at the king's castle, Blue asked Mother Hubbard and Simple Simon about the missing Miss Muffet, but they simply had no information. 

Detective Blue then notices the Spider and intently questions him about Miss Muffet. The Spider says that Miss Muffet was tired of curds and whey and that he had told her where she could find delicious porridge. Startled, Detective Blue rushed to the one place he knew there was porridge, for it could mean certain danger for Miss Muffet. As Blue approached the cottage, a young, blonde girl is charging out the front door shouting, "Bears! Run for you life!" Detective Blue is able to chase the girl down and confirm her identity...Miss Goldilocks Muffet! She confessed her dislike of curds and whey and her love of porridge. She apologizes to the bears for the broken chair. Order has been restored as everyone retires back to Old King Cole's castle for grand celebration. 

Little Boy Detective Blue is an experiment in postmodern creation with what I feel is a positive result. The multiple allusions to the other members of the Mother Goose family (i.e. Old King Cole, Jack Sprat)is reinforced by the illustrations by Tedd Arnold (i.e. Contrary Mary’s Community Garden). The graphic novel-like illustrations seem to cement the more grown up Little Boy Blue and his high paced life as a detective.

Overall, this book would be ideal for the second or third-grade classroom. Students are both familiar with the original Mother Goose characters and ready to see those characters grow and transform as they tackle new and exciting adventures. 

As I mentioned before, I personally loved this book. Blue has jumped off the pages of the Mother Goose reader and into a life of solving mysteries. Perhaps this new found profession has cured his low-grade narcolepsy, for I never once saw a sleepy boy playing brass instruments. Little Boy Detective Blue is a chance to see our potential as we grow-up. Blue, a boy from the rural countryside, is now serving in a new capacity—as a sleuthing city-boy solving one case at a time! 

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