It is harder and harder to find kid’s books that aren’t tied to some commercial enterprise such as a toy, TV show or movie. It is a shame because while it is now easy to find children’s books with characters such as Scooby-Doo as they garner large tracts of shelf-space in the store, it is harder to pick out good, general, non-commercialized reads for kids.
The High Rise Private Eyes is a series of (so far) 6 children’s books written by Cynthia Ryland and well illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Each book involves an unlikely pair of detectives, Bunny Brown (a rabbit naturally enough) and Jack Jones (a raccoon), a mild mystery and a snappy, gentle Nick-and-Noraesque banter between the two that makes the characters stand out. The book is terrific for the beginner reader or to read to your children directly. I couldn’t resist putting a Bogart spin on Jack’s sly responses when reading to my son, an imitation that fell on deaf ears when I realized that no one outside of myself thought I sounded anything like Humphrey Bogart.
So far, my son and I have worked our way through just two of the six stories (the Case of the Climbing Cat, and the Case of the Disappearing Monkey) and we will probably be looking at the others in the near future. The only minor quibble: It would have been nice to have them in a compilation instead of as separate books, but as most of the titles were released in the past year, so I expect we will see a compilation in the near future.