Jack and I go to the library at least once a week to play with the trains, attend story time, and get some books. Last week, I found a book entitled Who Killed Cock Robin? It’s a murder mystery picture book. For kids.
I have nothing against murder mysteries in general, but something about a murder mystery picture book, a book mixed in with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and Curious George strikes me as a little… off. Naturally, I checked it out.
It opens up with a picture of a newspaper story about a jewel heist. Cock Robin is the prime suspect. Then you turn the page and suddenly, the owl is questioning everyone in town. In rhyme. First he asks who did it, and we get this: “‘I,’ said the sparrow./ ‘With my bow and arrow,/ I killed Cock Robin.’” We then learn that the magpie saw him die (with his little eye), the duck covered the body, the pheasant dug the grave, and the crow carried the coffin. Yes, the coffin. Then there is a service, including a psalm reading and obligatory mourning by Cock Robin’s lost love and chief mourner, the dove.
Eventually, the hawk sees Cock Robin’s ghost, reports it to the owl, and the owl catches Cock Robin in the act of digging up his own grave in order to recover the stolen jewels mentioned in the opening newspaper article. At the end of the book, “All the birds of the air/ Fell a-sighin’ and a-sobbin’/ When they learned the fate/ Of poor Cock Robin.” (It is worth noting that this is the only stanza in the book in which the meter actually works. I say it’s worth noting, because the forced meter throughout the rest of the book drove me CRAZY. See: Sparrow’s stanza, above.)
On the last page is a list of the clues that led Owl to the truth. For example, the arrows that the sparrow was using had blue feathers, but the arrow that “killed” Cock Robin had red. And so forth. But the problem is that any kid old enough to solve a murder mystery by noticing and deciphering these clues is probably not browsing the PICTURE BOOK section of the library.
So, to sum up:
I don’t recommend
Murder mysteries for tots
I think there are lots
Of better options.