cover image The ABC Mystery

The ABC Mystery

Doug Cushman. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021226-1

This cunning twist on the traditional ABC book offers more than meets the eye. Each page highlights a different letter of the alphabet with bold type and contains one sentence of a full-fledged whodunit that is solved by book's end. Although Cushman's ( Aunt Eater Loves a Mystery ) premise is witty, this volume is not wholly satisfying as a concept book. Readers sophisticated enough to appreciate the intricacies of the mystery are beyond learning their ABC's, while those new to letter identification may struggle with the abstract metaphors in the text: ``C is the Clue that's left in the room.'' To the probable delight of picture book fans, however, the breezy and suspenseful story gathers momentum in all the right places. Cushman's airy watercolors depict a genteel and believable world of glorious green and flowering countryside, and nattily dressed animals. Successive readings offer plenty of opportunity for budding detectives to spot new clues. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)