What makes a great detective?

Or more aptly titled, the series I’ve wanted to talk about for over a year.

A few years ago, I started in on a series of books. It had everything, I mean everything I love in a story. Mystery. Humor. A detective duo. Red herrings. Secret identities.

Maybe you’ve heard of this fantastic and hilarious team of detectives?

Minnie and Moo.

Two cows who continue to solve mysteries in their fashionable clueless way while the farmer suspects something’s up.

And yes, this is an early reader series by Denys Cazet. I love them!

One of my favorite’s was this next one: Minnie and Moo: Wanted Dead or Alive.

Minnie and Moo want to help the farmer so they dress up in his old clothes and go to the bank to ask for money. I mean, how else would a cow get money? Unfortunately, they look exactly like two wanted bank robbers. You can imagine the hilarity. A bank heist and a high-speed chase through a cornfield! Minnie and Moo get away on the farmer’s tractor. So much fun.

You’d think there would be no lesson to be learned from a book for this age group; and frankly, that’s why I was so impressed with these. Using simple sentences and words, this author caught an adult’s attention.

Here are some of the elements I found:

  • Inciting incident
  • Three-dimensional characters
  • Plot points and complications
  • Climax
  • The end-of-story twist
  • Fun language
  • Humor through hyperbole.

I realized that all of these elements are found in the books I write and the books I read. I can remember all the times I fell asleep reading to my kids. I mean some books were loooong. Yes, I was one of those parents that chose the picture books with fewer words per page. Sorry. (Unless the story was good!)

I never fell asleep on this fantastic crime fighting team though.

Who are some of your favorite and memorable detectives?


, , , , , , , ,

15 Responses to What makes a great detective?

  1. Natalie Aguirre June 25, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    This sounds like a fun series. I hadn’t heard of it. I can remember being so tired reading aloud to my daughter that I would start to fall asleep while reading.

    • Laura June 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      I always felt so bad but I was only good for about 2 or 3 picture books, then I was done. My sister in law could read forever and loved. I wished I could do that!

  2. Louise June 25, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Ha! That’s great. And I can’t believe I never discovered them when I was a kid!

    I think Cam Jansen and Encyclopedia Brown were my first two favorite detectives when I was a kid. And of course, as I started to get a bit older, I LOVED the Hardy Boys. I read through my dad’s old collection dozens of times. Nancy Drew was all right but a bit of a drip – Frank and Joe and their chums were AWESOME.

    (I love that we’re both talking about detectives on our blogs today – great minds think alike!)

    • Laura June 25, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

      I love great detectives!

  3. Susan Kaye Quinn June 25, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    This reminds me that truly great writing always appears to be easy, as if creating all those great characters and story were something simple, accessible, anyone could do. But the key word there is accessible – it feels easy because it’s slips so effortlessly into our minds. It’s easy to read. I think this is the root of why children’s authors are so often disparaged when they should be praised – it is incredibly hard to write something that is easy to read.

    • Laura June 25, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

      I agree! And to make it funny, witty, and make sense for young readers with so few words. I’m amazed at the early reader books. I agree children’s books up through middle grade are hard to write and the best authors make it look so easy!

  4. Alex J. Cavanaugh June 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    Proof you’re never too old for kids’ books.

  5. Lisa Green June 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    That sounds awesome! Now that I’m going to be starting over, I’ll have to check into those when it’s time. I’m ashamed to say I’m one of “those” parents too, who shies away from longer stories. Unless they’re good!!

  6. Misha June 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    Sounds like a fun read that I’d love to share with my children once I have them. 😀

  7. Donna K. Weaver June 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    These books were old when I was a teen but I loved the Judy Bolton mystery series. She was so real compared to Nancy Drew. As for children’s books, I loved The Bear Detectives by Stan and Jan Berenstain. My children did, too.

  8. Lynda R Young June 25, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    Ha! I’d not heard of Minnie and Moo. They sounds like great detectives. 🙂

  9. Stina Lindenblatt June 25, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    LOL I’m glad to hear I’m not the only parent who has fallen asleep while reading to their kids. It was my fault really. I wasn’t getting much sleep so I could write, and I’d insist in reading 13 PB after lunch. Like you, Laura, I preferred books with the fewest words per page. It was the only way I could keep turning the page before I fell asleep.

    I enjoyed the one Minnie and Moo book I read. I think it was a Valentine’s Day one.

  10. Sherrie Petersen June 26, 2012 at 2:47 am #

    LOVE these books. My favorites are Minnie and Moo Go to the Moon and Minnie and Moo Meet Frankenswine. I think I actually did a blog post about it ages ago. My kids and I still crack up when we read these and they’re way past the age of his target audience 🙂 Best early reader series ever written. Seriously.

  11. Miss Jack Lewis Baillot June 27, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    Sometimes kids books have a ton to offer, and sometimes, like you, it is best to pick the books with as few words per picture as possible. I will look for these books, they sound fun!

    Favourite detective team? Sherlock and Watson 8-D

  12. Karen Lange June 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    These books sound great. I need to check them out; my grandson might like them when he’s a bit older. One of my favorite detective type series was the Trixie Belden books. I loved them, and always wanted to be like her.

    Thanks for the info!

Leave a Reply