Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson is part a mystery story but also part a story of friendship in a friendly forest. Detective Gordon, a toad, is the only officer in the forest, and he sits alone at his desk. When a hungry and lonely forest mouse is caught stealing nuts from squirrel’s winter stock, he invites her home and gives her some food. He is aghast that she does not even have a name, and proudly bestows one on her. Buffy becomes his sidekick, and together they are able to find a solution to the stolen nuts in the forest. Detective Gordon is a fun addition to the early chapter book lists and I hope this is the first of many such adventures for the good detective and his meek side kick.
Buffy is an adorable little one and Detective Gordon, despite his business-like demeanor is a true softy. Although he seems to be a stickler for the rules, for example, he let Buffy sleep on a bed and does not keep her in jail: he recognizes that she is not a threat and wants to give her chances. I liked the wintery setting and the relationships among the animals in the forest. Further, there was plenty of humor in the various creatures to make this a delightful read for the young reader: Detective Gordon’s seemingly senseless enjoyment of “stamping” his papers, his freezing in the snow, requesting help from his suspected thief when he needed to get unstuck.
The reading level is early chapter book. Most pages are broken by full-color illustrations, and have 150-200 words. The text is not too large nor too small, and the vocabulary is challenging. Although much of it is easy words for a beginning reader, there are a few more challenging vocabulary words, such as convoluted, significant, surveillance, and so forth. Nevertheless, the story is fun enough for an older reader who may still struggle with reading. The text and story are also complicated enough for a younger reader who is confident in their reading. I believe it is nice balance for an early chapter book.
My eight-year-old son, who reads at a much higher level, says he really enjoyed reading this book. He thought it was funny.
Note: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.