Noir whodunit in the land of Mother Goose.
When Jack loses his crown after falling down that hill, who better to crack the case than hard-boiled Joe Dumpty, private eye? (Joe made his rep by solving the mystery surrounding his brother in What REALLY Happened to Humpty?, 2009.) Jill leaps over the yellow crime-scene tape to meet him at the hill. Jack's eyes look like pinwheels as he tells Joe what he remembers; dizzy Jill can't add much more. Spider goes over the crime scene with a fine-tooth comb...literally! Joe visits the Sprats, who are fighting; could it be about the crown? Jack B. Nimble is on crutches; he fell while practicing his candle-jumping. He's an unlikely suspect. And in the house that Jack built, "Goldy" describes a suspicious encounter with the Muffin Man. Joe grills this sailor-suited gourmand, who implicates yet another Jack, the one who went up the beanstalk. While Joe visits this sulky Jack, Spider takes a trip up the beanstalk to talk to the giant. Between them, they solve the crime, and just in time. Joe and Spider can tackle their next case: The cow has jumped over the moon and hasn't been seen since. The pun-packed yarn may go over the heads of younger readers, but their grown-ups will chuckle, and everyone will enjoy the impish twists on familiar images in Axelsen's Photoshop illustrations.
Genuinely clever. (Picture book. 3-7)