As soon as Dotty Detective Super Secret Agent came through the letterbox my daughter whisked away this cute little book with its sparkly, spotty cover and started to read. She was hooked and couldn’t put the book down, “This is so interesting Mummy,” she said more than once and after finishing the first book she immediately asked if there was another one. I sneaked the second one, Dotty Detective The Paw Print Puzzle, into her bag when we went on holiday so she had a surprise read for the flight. Now she’s eagerly awaiting the third book, The Midnight Mystery, which will be published at the beginning of next year.
Dotty Detective is a friendly, resourceful, independent heroine who lives with Mum, twins, Alf and Maisy, and her dog, McClusky who plays a big part in the mysteries in both books. At school her best friend is called Beans, Mr Dickens (Mr D.) is her class teacher and she has to put up with Laura, a girl in her class who can be quite mean. Invisible writing, secret codes and disappearing objects all feature in the stories and Dotty and Beans often take inspiration from their favourite television show, Fred Fantastic Ace Detective, to help them solve their mysteries.
Dotty Detective shares her diary and all her everyday thoughts and adventures in a lively chatty style. The text is easy to read with short paragraphs and words made bold for emphasis, Clara writes in a way that makes you feel that Dotty is speaking just to you which adds an intimacy to the reading experience. Small incidents, the disappearance of Dotty’s favourite socks and descriptions of what she has to eat, are interspersed with bigger ones, forming the ‘Join the Dots Detective Club’ with Beans and going to the farm park. Each book includes more than one mystery which adds to the suspense as you are never quite sure which incidents are connected to which situation! The diary entries are interspersed with fun illustrations including maps, photos, what Dotty is learning in school and what she has to eat, no two spreads look the same and it really looks like Dotty has doodled all over her diary.
Super Secret Agent
The Story: Dotty has moved to a new flat and starts at a new school where she makes a friend, Beans. One day Mr D. announces that there will be a school talent show. Amy is nervous about singing so Dotty offers to lend her her lucky red shoes. Dotty and Beans are suspicious of Laura, who is making plans to win at any cost so they turn detective to monitor Laura’s actions and stop her sabotaging the show. But on the day of the show the lucky shoes have disappeared! Can Dotty and Beans solve the mystery of the missing shoes before the curtain goes up? And who will win the talent show?
Alongside the talent show several of Dotty’s favourite items go missing at home. Is there a connection between the missing shoes and the disappearance of her rainbow coloured socks?
The Paw Print Puzzle
The Story: After a visit to the farm park strange things start happening in Dotty’s flat – odd noises, a strange atmosphere and spooky feelings. Beans suspects a ghost and then McClusky and the twins start behaving strangely. Fruit and vegetables go missing and McClusky starts guarding the cupboard in the hallway. Mum is worried that her birthday party will have to be cancelled because of McClusky’s behaviour. Can Dotty and Beans solve the mystery before the party?
While Dotty and Beans are investigating the mysterious goings on in Dotty’s flat they are also preparing for a space themed assembly at school which may not be able to take place as the ‘space helmets’ have disappeared. Is there are logical explanation to their disappearance or does it have something to do with the twins and the missing vegetables?
These are great stories for children who are beginning to read independently and they will identify with Dotty Detective and Beans and their experiences, both at home and school. These easy to read diary style stories are the perfect size to fit in a Christmas stocking and they’re great introductions to detective stories (I couldn’t put them down either!).
Age Range: 5 +
Author / Illustrator: Clara Vulliamy