Great Illustrated Books

Detective LaRue: Letters from the Investigation (Ike LaRue series)

By Mark Teague

Scholastic Press, 2004
Pages : 32
Suggested Ages: 4-9
ISBN: 9780439458689

We first met hypochondriac, serial exaggerator, and kvetcher, Ike LaRue, Mrs. LaRue's melodramatic black and white terrier, when he was "imprisoned" at the posh Igor Brotweiler Canine Academy, where he had been sent for a two month term in Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School . In this, his second adventure, he's a suspect in some feline foul play—the police are holding him as a suspect in the disappearance of neighbor Mrs. Hibbins' two cats. Told by Ike in the text of the letters he sends his vacationing owner, Mrs. LaRue, he sets out to find the bad cats—whom he has linked to a string of canary and bird thefts all over town—and to clear his own name.

Note that the two sets of illustrations on each page, one in lush acrylics, the other in hard-boiled black and white, tell the story from two very different viewpoints. As Ike says, "Of course, the color pictures are just a bit of comic relief—trust me, the black and white ones reveal the true drama." Or do they? Readers will want to discuss and debate who is telling the whole truth—Ike, or the police and the newspapers, and speculate on how the two cats might tell their side of the story. And just in time for Election Day, there's LaRue for Mayor: Letters from the Campaign Trail

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Allard, Harry. Miss Nelson Is Missing. Houghton Mifflin, 1985. ISBN-13: 978-0395664988

Cronin, Doreen. Duck for President. Simon & Schuster, 2004. ISBN-13: 978-1416958000

Cushman, Doug. The Mystery of King Karfu. HarperCollins, 1996. ISBN-13: 978-0064435031

Falconer, Ian. Olivia... and the Missing Toy. Atheneum, 2003. ISBN-13: 978-0689852916

Geras, Ad��le. The Cats of Cuckoo Square: Two Stories. Delacorte, 2001. ISBN-10: 038572926X

Howe, James. Bud Barkin, Private Eye. Atheneum, 2003. (And others in the Tales from the House of Bunnicula series.) ISBN-13: 978-0689869891

Kirk, Daniel. Dogs Rule! Hyperion, 2003. ISBN-13: 978-0786819492

Laden, Nina. The Night I Followed the Dog. Chronicle, 1994. ISBN-13: 978-0811806473

Meddaugh, Susan. Martha Walks the Dog. Houghton Mifflin, 1998. ISBN-13: 978-0618380053

Meddaugh, Susan. Perfectly Martha. Houghton Mifflin, 2004. ISBN-13: 978-0618378579

Miller, Sara Swan. Three Stories You Can Read to Your Dog. Houghton Mifflin, 1995. ISBN-13: 978-0395861356

Palatini, Margie. The Web Files. Hyperion, 2001. ISBN-10: 078680419X

Teague, Mark. Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School. Scholastic, 2002. ISBN-13: 978-0439206631

Teague, Mark. LaRue for Mayor: Letters from the Campaign Trail. Scholastic, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0439206631

Critics have said

Teague's visual characterizations of animals and people are also a treat. Ike displays a variety of emotions and attitudes, often subtly conveyed by posture, facial expression, or even just the tilt of an eyebrow. The cat-bashing references in the dog's letters add another touch of humor to this satisfying epistolary tale.
Steven Engelfried, School Library Journal
The noir-inspired premise drifts farther from doggy reality than the first book's, but children will get a thrill out of piecing together the mystery alongside the wily, self-serving, yet eminently lovable Ike.
Jennifer Mattson, Booklist
Lively acrylics paired with comical correspondence result in a picture book that will have Ike fans howling.
Publishers Weekly
Teague's innovative approach to storytelling is fun, but educational as well, skillfully imparting some valuable lessons in point of view and reading between the lines.
Kirkus Reviews