DETECTIVE LB AND HOPPER, BOOK #1
The Case of the Missing Chocolate Frogs
Written by Janey Gaston
Illustrated by Anil Tortop
Little Step Publishing —September 2020
32 Pages Age 4—8
. . . . DEBUT
Genre: Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Themes: Detectives, Mysteries, Forgiveness
Detective LB and Hopper have a mystery to solve. They set out for the Poppycat Candy Company with two magnifying glasses, a hat, two comic books, and three carrots.
Will they be able crack the case of the disappearing chocolate frogs? (from back cover)
“Detective LB liked mysteries. Her ladybug brain loved everything about them. In fact, she had spent most of her ladybug life with her spectacled nose in a good mystery book. She adored mysteries almost as much as she adored her ladybug spots. Even more than that, she loved solving mysteries with her best, Hopper.”
Why I like Detective LB and Hopper #1: The Case of the Missing Chocolate Frogs
Detective LB, a ladybug, who likes mysteries, runs the BunnyBugs Detective Agency with best friend Hopper, a comic-loving bunny who longs to be a superhero. With no mysteries to solve, the detectives keep busy endlessly drawing pictures of themselves.
On Tuesday, a loud BANG occurs on their door. Mr. Poppy, from the Poppycat Candy Company, and the biggest, silkiest cat the detectives have ever seen, needs help solving the mystery of some missing chocolate frogs meant for his Grandma Rose. LB and Hopper agree to take the case and follow Mr. Poppy back to his candy store. In the street is a puddle of mud Hopper almost lands in. LB thinks it is odd to have a pile of mud, as it has not rained in quite some time. He files it away in his brain as clue number one. After all the clues are found and stories told, can the detectives solve the case of the missing chocolate frogs?
The Missing Chocolate Frogs, book one of the new series Detective LB and Hopper, is author Janey Gaston’s debut picture book. She has constructed a fine story. Children will like the characters and might be able to figure out what happened before LB figures it out. This is a big plus for a child’s self-esteem. Most children will want to read, or hear, the story more than once. Many will be enticed to read comics and find their own favorite superhero. Kudos for this!
But . . . the story is unnecessarily wordy. Much can be deleted, making the story stronger and easier for kids to read without help. Young children will have a hard time sitting through the entire story without becoming fidgety. I think Detective LB and Hopper would be best written as a chapter book, where there is room for all the wonderful details Ms. Gaston includes. She could easily divide this picture book into three to five chapters and create an outstanding chapter book. It is always easier to add words than to remove them. Trying to give children a sense of the scene and how the environment’s laid out is commendable, but a picture book’s intended reader/listener often does not the ability to stay focused to paragraphs of text. This is more for the artist to fill in with illustrations.
In any event, to become a strong picture book or changing to a chapter book will require a good editor and proofreader. A couple of times, the story goes off course when details are changed. For example, Hopper states he is going home, anxious to read a certain new comic book, but we find he reads something else. Also, the detectives write out the four clues they gathered, but one clue is never mentioned in the story, which might lead children, as it did I, to wonder where it came from. While it makes sense for Grandma to be sad when no chocolate frogs arrive, her emotional state is never mentioned. These two examples should have been caught.
One last point, I found it annoying when five lines of text wraps around the art in an arc. This requires twisting the book to read the text, which can stop the flow of the story, especially if a parent or teacher is trying to read the text while showing the spread.
With that out of the way, let’s see what is great about The Case of the Missing Chocolate Frogs.
The characters are fun. LB, the ladybug, wears glasses and loves mysteries. Hopper, a bunny, is her best friend and partner in the BunnyBugs Detective Agency. Children will understand the connects and like the names. Hopper loves superheroes and wishes he were one as good as his comic hero Renegade Roo. Mr. Popper and his niece Pepper are not named in reference to their being cats, as LB and Hopper are to their species. That would have been a nice continuation of theme. There is a moderate amount of alliteration to twist youngsters’ tongues.
There are times where attentive readers/listeners will find a clue, possibly ahead of the detectives. Children will enjoy figuring out the yummy mystery on their own. There are no red herrings to confuse youngsters. LB and Hopper get frustrated trying to solve the case with only four clues and call it a night. Hopper tries thinking like Renegade Roo and solving the case as a superhero. Will it work?
Anil Tortop’s art gives children adorable detectives. Lots of color draws attention to the clues, giving readers a heads-up over the detectives. The illustrations do a good job of establishing the environment and characters’ emotions. Throughout, the illustrations are full of great detail which can keep one glued to the spread looking for clues.
In the end, the clues add up, no threads are left dangling, and the culprit is brought to justice. Here’s to hoping future installments of Detectives LB and Hopper wrap up as nicely. Children will love this series and look forward to new cases.
Illustrations Rendered in digital.
Available at Amazon: Detective LB and Hopper #1: The Case of the Missing Chocolate Frogs
DETECTIVE LB AND HOPPER, BOOK #1: The Case of the Missing Chocolate Frogs. Text Copyright © 2020 by Janey Gaston. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Anil Tortop. Published by Little Step Publishing, New York, NY.
Copyright © 2020 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
[840—word count-review only]
[I am an Amazon affiliate. When you purchase through a link on KLR, you are supporting Kid Lit Reviews. For each sale, KLR makes a small commission, which costs you nothing extra. This is an easy way to show your support for this site, without using your own money. For each commission received, I gratefully thank you.]