Friday, May 29, 2015

The Crown Affair: From the Files of a Hard-Boiled Detective

The Crown Affair
written by Jeanie Franz Ransom; illustrated by Stephen Axelsen
2015 (Charlesbridge)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

I'm the go-to guy for detective work in Mother Gooseland.

Jack has lost his crown and it's up to Detective Joe Dumpty to find the culprit. If the crown is not found by two o'clock, the Gooseland Games will be kaput. When Joe gets to the scene of the alleged crime, Jack doesn't seem to be in shape to be of much help, so Joe interviews Jill instead. It seems there was a ground shaking boom as the tale twosome were heading up the hill. After the great fall, Jill notices that the crown is missing. To find the culprit, Joe scours Gooseland and interviews characters like Jack Sprat, Jack B. Nimble (recovering from a boom-induced foot injury), a surfer-like Goldilocks, and not so little Jack Horner who hangs out at the Muffin Man's Bake Shoppe. Joe collects clues and puns along the way which lead him to the main suspect, Jack of beanstalk fame. Is the punk-like Jack Beanstalk the new keeper of the crown? Will the Gooseland Games go sunny-side up or lay an egg? If Joe doesn't crack, he'll find the answers.

The Crown Affair is the latest Joe Dumpty book that will egg your readers on. If you want to teach a unit on parody or puns, this would be a great mentor text. The text is a clever take on famous fairy tales and detective behavior. In the front and back of the book are maps of Mother Gooseland which could serve as models for a geography unit activity where students create their own maps of a fictional place. I was surprised how informed my students were of the nursery rhymes referenced in the book. Fractured tales are always fun to teach and write, so crack open a copy of The Crown Affair as an inspired introduction to that unit as well.

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