Detective LaRue, Letters from the Investigation

Detective LaRue, Letters from the Investigation by Mark Teague
Detective LaRue, Letters from the Investigation by Mark Teague

today’s children storybook summary is

Detective LaRue – Letters from the Investigation

By Mark Teague

Storyline: Ike LaRue, the wire fox terrier dog, is back with a new adventure. This time, he is solving a crime involving a burglary and the disappearance of the neighbor’s cats. We find out about it through a series of letters he sends to his master Gertrude LaRue.

On September 30th, the Snort City Gazette reported that two cats have gone missing from their home, Mrs. Hibbins apartment. The police already have a suspect in custody, Ike LaRue, a wire fox terrier dog, whose master, Gertrude LaRue, is vacationing in Paris. It seems that Ike is held at the police station. We can see that he is treated with kindness, coffee, and donuts and he is free to use the officers’ place at his will. There, the dog is writing letters to Mrs. Gertrude, proclaiming his innocence and explaining how he got into this situation. He is asking her to hurry back home to get him out. Having such an overactive imagination, he always enhances the reality to the extremes.

As Mrs. LaRue doesn’t come back, the dog decides to leave (escape, as he puts it) and find the two cats by himself, thus proving his innocence. He also has a lead: he thinks that the cats may be responsible for stealing two canaries and a mynah bird, as well as for other similar burglaries that had happened around the same time as the cats’ disappearance.

From the dog hotel where he’s enjoying a happy life, the fox terrier is imagining being Detective Ike LaRue in action and solving the missing cats mystery step by step. While scrubbing his fur in a bath tub, or having a scrumptious breakfast, or enjoying a game at the stadium he pretends he speaks with a pigeon witness, or sneaks in the dark to collect clues, with a mouse friend. His conclusion: the Hibbins cats cannot be elsewhere then at the place of their first crime where, presumably, they have “made off with six plump birds”. The police were called, and the officers rescued the cats stuck on a ladder. Shortly after, the cats were reunited with their loving Mrs. Hibbins, with no charges against them.  In a ceremony held by the police officers the dog was presented as a hero for finding the cats. But he doesn’t agree entirely. In the last letter he sends to Mrs. LaRue in Paris, the dog says that they totally “misjudged” the situation though there are no “hard feelings” on his part. Ike even got a police badge for his heroic act.

 Characters: Ike LaRue, a wire fox terrier dog, with an overacting imagination, the Hibbins cats who like to sneak out of the house, Mrs. Hibbins, Mrs. Gertrude LaRue, police officers.

Illustration: Mark Teague is, also, the illustrator of this book. As in his previous Ike LaRue book, Teague uses color vs. black and white technique to make the distinction between “real” places (where the story takes place) and imaginary ones. On one page we see the dog in the intended fictional settings, with lovely bright colors and firm drawings. Then, often time on the opposite page we see the imaginary world that the dog creates for himself, where everything is black and white with a shade of dark blue lurking on the background.

Recommended Age: 7 to 10

Reading Time: 10 to 12 minutes


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