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Nursery Crimes

by Arthur Geisert

Published by Walter Lorraine Books / Houghton Mifflin, 2001
32 pages
ISBN: 0-618-06487-7

Ages 4 - 8

A French-immigrant couple, Jumbo and Marva, establish a small tree nursery near Ames, Iowa. They live with their children in an amazing domicile fashioned from parts of an old caboose, a school bus, a country church, and other salvaged pieces. Besides learning the family's salvage-yard and tree-trimming businesses, their 12 children are knowledgeable about raising giant pumpkins. Everything helps to "make ends meet." As the story begins, the children are busy crafting topiary turkeys for upcoming Thanksgiving sales. Their carefully shaped topiaries disappear overnight, the crime must be solved, and the sheriff isn't helpful. Obvious clues lead to sly, unneighborly Voler and his crew, who are notorious topiary thieves. The clever children devise a way to catch the robbers. Their plan necessitates using pumpkins and remembering a sales secret about their topiaries. The characters in this zany story are all Geisert's signature pigs, similar to those featured in earlier books: Pa's Balloon and Other Pig Tales (1984); Pigs from A to Z (1986); Oink (1991); Pigs 1 to 10 (1992); Oink Oink (1993); Haystack (1995); and Roman Numerals I to MM (1996). Once again, Geisert incorporates ingeniously linked objects, ladders, and slides for his mechanically gifted pigs. In addition to his sly plays on words in the title and elsewhere in the text, Geisert's extraordinary colored etchings in Nursery Crimes are what some adults might view as a subtle, wacky celebration of rural folk art. But children will enjoy them in all seasons for their mystery and fun. CCBC categories: Seasons and Celebrations; Picture Books for Older Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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