The kind of day when kindergartners wake up cranky from their naps."
-- Chet sets the scene in The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse
Here's another series to help get your kids onto the right reading track. If they're in grade three or four, and not quite ready for Chandler, why not get 'em cracking with adventures from "The Tattered Casebook of Chet Gecko, Private Eye."
Even if I hadn't already spilled the beans, you might have guessed from his name (plus the illustration right over there, a pretty big clue in itself), that CHET GECKO, Emerson Hicky Elementary School's pride and joy is, well, a gecko. We are definitely not in Kansas anymore.
And there are plenty of puns and double entendres to keep parents amused, as well (at least for the first few hundred readings). Just check out the titles: The Big Nap, Farewell, My Lunchbag, The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse. And the books are loaded with witty black-and-white drawings. Obviously writer/illustrator Bruce Hale is having some fun here.
In The Big Nap, for example, Chet and his fellow ops, Natalie Attired (a bird) and Waldo (some sort of, uh, furry thing) must stop all the kids from being turned into zombies. It turns out the villain is a real weasel. Literally.
And judging from the author's dead-on impersonation of the hard-boiled prose style ("Dames. Whether they thought you were a good boy or a bad boy, they always spelled trouble."), he's also a fan. The kids may not know Hammett from a hole in the ground, but the P.I. has become so much a part of our culture that most kids get the joke.
Bruce Hale is the author of five picture books as well as the Chet Gecko mysteries. A popular speaker, teacher, and storyteller for children and adults, he was awarded a Fulbright grant in 1998 to teach storytelling and to study folklore in Thailand. He currently lives in Santa Barbara, CA. Or at least, that's what his publishers want us to believe. So far, the rumours that Bruce Hale is a pseudonym of James Ellroy remain unconfirmed...
The author's official website, complete with a section on Chet Gecko.
Get 'em while they're young. A suggested reading list.
Going to the dogs, the cats and worse.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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