cover image Who Stole the Hazelnuts? A Forest Mystery

Who Stole the Hazelnuts? A Forest Mystery

Marcus Pfister, trans. from the German by David Henry Wilson. NorthSouth, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7358-4382-0

Rainbow Fish creator Pfister sets this caper on solid terra firma, introducing a squirrel who can’t find his hazelnuts. In sprightly rhymed couplets, he theatrically addresses a lineup of forest creatures: “All three have vanished. Not a trace./ Stolen from their hiding place./ Oh, such a crime’s beyond belief! /Help, oh help me find the thief!” The squirrel’s anguished tone soon turns accusatory as he muses on each critter’s conjectural culpability. Set against Pfister’s earth-toned, softly focused renderings of an idyllic woodland setting, the suspects’ similarly phrased proclamations of innocence are well crafted for reading aloud, with the smug fox (pictured lounging in the grass, snacking on drumsticks) landing the most threatening denial: “The Fox just laughed./ ‘Me, steal nuts? Don’t be so daft./ Chickens I’ll steal. Lovely to chew./ Stay around, and I’ll chew you too.’ ” After he locates his missing food—right where he’d left it, no less—the oblivious squirrel gets his comeuppance as his friends turn the tables (“Next time you want to make a fuss,/ Accuse yourself instead of us!”) and his apology ensues. It’s a lesson entertainingly learned—and one that will easily spark dialogue. Ages 4–8. [em](Sept.) [/em]