Picture Book Recommendation: THE GREAT GUMSHOE

Cover of The Great GumshoeLooking for mystery, suspense, and teddy bears? Yes, of course you are, because kids lose their teddy bears ALL THE TIME. Ok, maybe that’s just my kid. Whatever…

“I’ll never forget the day she walked into my life.”

So begins the story of The Great Gumshoe, an easy-to-read picture book mystery best suited for kindergarteners or first graders. The Great Gumshoe follows a film noir style of storytelling, although without all the cynicism or innuendo. Now, I know what you’re thinking… How you can you have film noir style without cynicism or innuendo? Hey, I don’t know, but it works. Charlotte has lost her teddy bear and needs help, so she enlists the aid of the Great Gumshoe and the two of them search and search until finally they get a clue:

“There were cookies on two of the plates, and the third one had a fish. Teddy had been here.”

Did someone kidnap teddy? Or did Charlotte simply misplace him? Kids will be wondering as they read independently. The font is large and bold like you’d see in an early reader. Also, the vocabulary is simple enough that kids learning to read will recognize many sight words. There’s also enough variety that I see this as being a good story for a preschooler or kindergartener who wants something slightly more challenging than the Dick & Jane style of many early readers.

Of course, you’ll need to be nearby while kids are reading because they may get tripped up on the occasional long word like “magnifying.” But really, can you have a detective without a magnifying glass? Well, you could, but he wouldn’t be as cool as The Great Gumshoe.

Themes:

Mystery, Teddy Bears, Comfort Objects, Loss

Resources:

Get kids thinking with Mystery Boxes. Parents.com lists this project as being for toddlers, but just asking questions before letting kids see what’s in the box makes it fun for school-age kids.

Embrace your inner gumshoe by making your own magnifying glass. Beware, this craft by Kiddies DIY needs adult assistance as it requires a glue gun.

For a great classroom or library activity, check out this YouTube video Mystery Bag: Developing Oral Language Skills in Pre-Kindergarten.

Great Schools has an activity called Be The Detective that will help aid children’s comprehension when reading.

Perfect Picture Book List on Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog

100 Libraries in 100 Days: An IndiGoGo campaign by Amanda Litz

Bibliographic Info:

Author: Amanda Litz
Illustrator: Christy Beckwith
Reading level: 4-6
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Traveler’s Trunk Publishing (2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984149643
ISBN-13: 978-0984149643

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Author: Nessa

Librarian for people with visual and physical impairments, and mother of two sharp-witted alien children.

12 thoughts on “Picture Book Recommendation: THE GREAT GUMSHOE”

  1. This books sounds fascinating! Can’t wait to check it out!
    I am starting a new link-up party this week for all things book and reading related on my blog, Mommynificent. I’d love to have you join us with this post and any others you’d like to share. Hope to see you at Booknificent Thursday this week and every week!
    Tina @ Mommynificent

  2. This sounds like a fun book! I’m always losing my tennis balls so I can relate. My Mom Person makes for a pretty good “gumshoe”. Although she doesn’t like having gum on her shoes! I’ll have to check this one out.

  3. This looks like fun! Just read The Great Cake Mystery : Precious Ramotswe’s very first case / by Alexander McCall Smith ; illustrated by Iain McIntosh., an early chapter book – but now I’m in the mood for more mystery!

  4. Great story that every child and parent can relate to. Love the detective idea and activity! Good book to keep on hand in case of a alost teddy. Was surprised the book was a newer book, because the cover reminds me of the 50s.

  5. I love the cover art and film noir approach. Does anyone know, when an author forms her own publishing house (like this woman did) to publish her books is that considered self-publishing?

    1. Sort of… there’s a new term called “indie publishing,” which I think would apply more to this kind of work.

      Indie publishing is basically self-publishing by an industry professional. The books are not vanity works, but professional quality work where an author collaborates with one or more industry professionals, like editors, agents, art directors, illustrators, etc, for feedback and quality control.

      Indie publishing and vanity publishing are technically self-publishing, but “indie publishing” doesn’t carry as much of the negative connotation as “self-publishing” and the ever-dreaded “vanity publishing.”

  6. Sounds like a fun read. I remember when my 18 mo old lost a cloth dolly I made. She slept with it every night. I checked everywhere!!! She cried for two nights. Asked her sister who was 2, enlisted my husband, called the little neighbor girl who had come over to play with her. I went to the store bought more material and frantically recreated the doll (had to rough it up a bit to make it authentic)–finally peace at bedtime. The next day I was doing the wash – I picked up her crib sheet I’d tossed down 2 days before….the doll was caught in the fitted corner of the sheet. It’s 24 years later –and she still has the doll (not sure which one it is the first or the replacement.) Hmmm-maybe there’s a picture book story in this…..

    1. My daughter lost her favorite Pink Bunny about a year ago and we never found it. She was always leaving it everywhere. Luckily, she had two other animals, Bunny and Bear, that she liked almost as much, so they replaced Pink Bunny.

      One time, she left her replacement Bunny at Barnes & Noble, and I remembered I had last seen it there a few hours later. The staff and I went on a search and luckily someone had put Bunny up on a counter in the children’s area. I would have been disastrous to lose a second bunny, especially because the replacement was the one her daddy bought the day she was born. I am still trying to break her of the habit of taking (and leaving) Bunny and Bear everywhere.

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