Review of Detective Gordon: The First Case

nilsson_detective gordon the first case star2 Detective Gordon: The First Case
by Ulf Nilsson; illus. by Gitte Spee; trans. from the Swedish by Julia Marshall
Primary, Intermediate   Gecko   96 pp.
4/15   978-1-927271-49-0   $16.99
e-book ed. 978-1-927271-72-8   $9.99

This Swedish import stars toad Detective Gordon, “Chief of Police and Chief of Detectives in the forest.” He’s elderly (for a toad: nineteen), cerebral, food-loving, and weapons-averse. He knows his community and he’s wise about its foibles in ways reminiscent of Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe. Over the course of a case involving Vladimir the Squirrel’s missing nuts, the chief appoints an assistant, Policewoman Buffy, a mouse who is young, agile, enthusiastic, and eager to get her hands on the pistol kept safely locked away in the police station. Chalk and cheese, Gordon and Buffy make an effective team, joined by mutual respect and a love of cupcakes. In this, their first case, they track down a couple of nut thieves — teenage squirrels with attitude — and mete out a creative punishment. Sly, personality-rich, wintry-hued illustrations perfectly match a simple, funny text that packs a quiet, gently satirical punch on the subjects of crime, justice, punishment, gun control, retribution, and bureaucracy. The whole package, with a generous open book design on deliciously creamy paper, is a treat.

From the May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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