Thanks to Betty Webb, I discovered Bruce Hale's Chet Gecko mysteries. What a fun discovery! Fourth graders should love this series, beginning with The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse.
Chet is a gecko who sees himself as a fourth grade private eye at Emerson Hicky Elementary School. This first book begins in the traditional clipped language of noir detective stories, introducing the private eye. "Who am I? Chet Gecko-Private Eye....I'm a lizard." Chapter one begins with "Some cases start rough, some cases start easy. This one started with a dame." Adult mystery readers will love the style with it's familiar comments from classic detective stories. And, there's humor only adults will understand.
At the same time, the book introduces young readers to the mystery format, and a fun group of characters. Chet Gecko is hired by a chameleon to find her missing brother. Clues lead to the school bully, and a plot against the football game. Boys will love the fact that Chet eats bugs, cockroaches, and stinkbug pie. And, he's upset about cooties when he gets kissed by girls. It's typical fourth grade humor, including jokes and riddles. Every kid will recognize the school bully, the feared teacher and principal, and the giggling girls. Hale introduces readers to mysteries within the familiar atmosphere of elementary school.
How can any mystery reader resist titles such as Farewell, My Lunchbag, The Big Nap, and The Hamster of the Baskervilles? If you're a fan of crime fiction, these books are perfect for introducing kids to mysteries. After finishing, The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse, I'm off to find the next one, The Mystery of Mr. Nice.
The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse by Bruce Hale. Harcourt, Inc., ©2000. ISBN 0-15-202485-9 (paperback), 97p.