Geronimo Stilton is a mouse, and he doesn’t let you forget it! In New Mouse City, on Mouse Island, it’s a whole civilization of mice with many similarities to us. Geronimo is a journalist, investigating a mysterious artifact called the Black Papyrus. It seems there are others who want to get their hands on it, because the Black Papyrus contains the secret to staying young forever. Then, in the second story in the book, Geronimo tries to foil an unusual gang of bank robbers: four mice that have somehow trained a giant cat to assist them in their heists!
These stories are mysteries suitable for early elementary school readers – not too difficult to solve – and the clues are planted right out in the open for kids to pick up on. While the plots may seem too simple for older readers, the simplicity will help kids feel accomplished when they foil the bad guys along with Geronimo Stilton. Although, the solutions to the mysteries seem a little farfetched and contrived, even for a book about mice that talk and walk on two legs.
Sometimes, there are books that, in their attempts to cater to their young audience, go too far and end up condescending or grating. Unfortunately, The Hunt for the Secret Papyrus occasionally stumbles into this trap. The text treatment, with some words in bright colors and different fonts, is difficult to read and the constant mouse and cheese puns – characters saying “rancid ricotta!” and “holey cheese!” as curses and words like “fabumouse” and “famouse” – got a little old after a few pages.
For very young readers, the mystery is just simple enough to solve, while being complicated enough to allow for repeat readings to catch all the clues. Some pages have wonderfully detailed illustrations that are very satisfying to pore through, like the map of New Mouse City and the diagram of Geronimo’s newspaper’s headquarters. Geronimo, despite his strange mouse speech patterns, is a likable hero, and his relationship with his nephews and sister, who help him on his investigations, is heartwarming.
An engaging, lighthearted mystery can be a fantastic teaching tool for kids, and can help them flex their critical thinking muscles. If your child is young enough to overlook a few plot holes and bad mouse puns, the Geronimo Stilton mysteries could be just the thing for them.
Whitney Morton Woodcock is an artist, graphic designer, and a
maybe-someday children’s book illustrator. She has a BFA in
Illustration from the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota,
Florida, and currently resides in Tucson, Arizona with her husband
Brian and a few human and dog children. When she’s not reading (which takes up a lot of time!), she also enjoys cooking, yoga, painting
anything that stands still long enough, and planning vacations she
usually doesn’t end up taking. Her artwork can be found at WhitneyMorton.com and her pet portraiture business is at MaxfieldAndMadison.com.
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