The spunky, smart, but fictional Hilde who cracks a string of pastry thefts before the evening deadline is modeled after a real Hilde—the co-author—who runs her own newspaper.
Each crime—a stolen cherry pie, missing lemon cupcakes, eggs taken from under the hens, a broken cookie jar, a list of bake-off contestants that has disappeared—includes a clue that perceptive Hilde, in the quest of a good story, is sure to recognize. Aided by her sister, Izzy, the staff photographer, Hilde gamely moves from one crime to the next, calming irate adults as she eventually connects the dots just in the nick of time. Lew-Vriethoff’s attractive illustrations (many of which were just sketches at the time of review) are liberally sprinkled throughout the brief text, appearing on nearly every page. Hilde (and almost everyone else illustrated) is depicted as white. Her notes are included throughout; later a compilation is displayed. Unfortunately for fellow sleuths, the true perpetrator, although hinted at previously, isn’t included among Hilde’s list of potential thieves, making it hard to solve the crime ahead of the reporter herself. Although character development is lacking, it’s the investigation that’s the centerpiece of the tale, the first in a new series for emergent chapter-book readers.
Although entertaining and fast-paced, there is nothing to elevate this effort above a crowded field. (Fiction. 6-8)