A playful mystery culminates in a gentle message of conflict resolution.
The bold palette, knockout type, and the chalk characters’ big eyes contribute to the book’s striking design, with childlike, colorful, anthropomorphic sticks of chalk against a dark, blackboardlike background, digital lines emulating strokes of chalk. The story begins when the protagonists leave their drawings of flowers behind when their teacher, Mrs. Red, calls them for lunch, and when they return, they’re shocked that the drawings have disappeared. They redraw the flowers, and Mrs. Red adds a fence, but it fails to protect the new drawings when the chalks leave for storytime. “Sergeant Blue arrived to investigate…” reads the next spread, which depicts a blue, mustachioed chalk and his matching blue police car. Sgt. Blue notes “important evidence,” highlighting the width of the areas of absent markings and the presence of dust. He then assembles a lineup of suspects, including, among others, scissors, a ruler, and a chalkboard eraser of just the right width. It also has, as a tiny chalk exclaims, “A DUSTY RED BOTTOM!” A chase ensues to capture the eraser, but the chalks eventually understand that it isn’t a thief, it’s just fulfilling its natural role when it erases drawings. The happily-ever-after ending shows chalks and eraser playing together in a collaborative culmination of the whodunit tale.
Storytime is solved with this addition to the bookcase. (Picture book. 3-6)