The Picture Book Buzz

Detective Mole - The Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

One of my favorite movies from childhood is The Pink Panther. My siblings and I howled over the bumbling adventures of Jacques Clouseau. I even enjoyed the reboot with Steve Martin. And on an aside - I just discovered there's possibly a new film reboot in the works with the beloved Julie Andrews (widow of the original creator Blake Edwards) as a director? Ooh I hope so!


Okay, back to why we're here. Oscar, a mole and renowned chef (which is funny on its own), decides he'd rather be a detective. Though his skills of observation and detection remind me so much of Jacques Clouseau! This book is full of visual clues and comedy and a wonderful wry sense of humor.


Detective Mole


Author/Illustrator: Camilla Pintonato


Publisher: Harper Collins (2021)


Ages: 4-8


Fiction


Themes:

Humor, detective/mystery, and animals.

Synopsis:

A charming, tongue-in-cheek picture book about a mole who exchanges his chef’s apron for a detective’s trench coat and sets out to solve his first case!


Oscar is a whiz in the kitchen, but he’s always dreamed of being a detective. When a squirrel is reported missing, Oscar hopes this will be his big break. Since he’s read so many mysteries and has a nose for details, he knows exactly how to lead an investigation. But the clues pile up and he’s nowhere closer to solving the case. Will he be able to track down the missing squirrel?


Readers will delight in page after page of imaginative scenes from Oscar’s world—each is packed with hidden clues, making this an interactive game for readers. One spread features Oscar’s underground tunnel home and restaurant, another is the corkboard where Oscar pins up his clues, and yet another is a huge tree populated with birdhouses—each with an address.


Opening Lines:

Oscar is a chef, and

he has a great nose.


He can sniff out anything.

He even knows the secret ingredient

in Aunt Mole’s stink bug stew.

(It’s an earthworm!)


What I LOVED about this book:

I love Camilla's choice for a main character, especially as a wanna-be detective. Moles have very bad eyesight and rely primarily on their noses. Which makes Oscar a great cook; able to sniff out secret ingredients in dishes. However, Oscar (who loves to read Agatha Christy and Sherlock Holmes) dreams of being a detective.


Camilla's illustration of Oscar's underground house is amazing. She even snuck in a well-known art piece (see our interview). Kids will have so much fun finding all sorts of little treasures from a snazzy bathroom to a woodstove & bookcase. Did you see the mouse roasting marshmallows?

Text and Image © Camilla Pintonato, 2021.


Armed with a trench coat, deerstalker cap, black sunglasses, and a magnifying glass, Oscar sets out to find a case. As luck would have it, a squirrel cries for help in finding her missing Grandpa. Like any good detective, he creates a sketch of the missing person and shows it to other forest animals. Eliciting a variety of comments, including "I've never seen a creature like that before," but no witnesses or suspects.

Text and Image © Camilla Pintonato, 2021.


Next he "blindly" investigates Grandpa's house - "looking" for evidence, kids are going to love catching all the clues that Camilla scatters throughout the room which Oscar totally misses (especially when they return on subsequent reads). Oscar questions suspects, follows leads, and collects clues. And humorously misses the most important ones every single time. This will be such a fun book for a read aloud! I can just hear the kids calling out the clues he's missed.


I love Camilla's portrayal of Oscar trying to puzzle out the evidence - or connect the dots! 😊

Text and Image © Camilla Pintonato, 2021.


In a truly "Clouseau-like" manner, Oscar's decision to take a walk to clear his head causes him to bumble into. . . Well now you gotta read the book. But suffice it to say it's "the most important quality of a true detective." The slightly cartoonish digital images, with the mix of narration and speech bubbles, are so fun and Camilla does a fantastic job of letting aspiring kid detectives solve the missing person case before Oscar, as well as a number of other crimes he totally misses. It's a wonderfully funny book. I hope we get to see a few more books about Oscar.


Resources:

- make your own spy/detective kit (https://kidsactivitiesblog.com/64717/diy-spy-kit-box/), add a journal & pencil, magnifying glass, hat, small plastic bags (for evidence), a whistle, compass, or anything else a detective needs.

- what clues and crimes did Oscar miss? Go for a walk around in your neighborhood or park. Can you find clues of things that happened earlier? Look for footprints (pawprints), scat, scrape marks, fur, feathers, wrappers, or trails. Describe, or draw, what you see in a journal.

- like Oscar, draw a map of your neighborhood. What are the important landmarks on your map?


If you missed it, be sure to check out Monday's interview with Camilla Pintonato (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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