REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books

‘The Case of the Bad Apples’ By Robin Newman, Illus. Deborah Zemke, ages 5-9, 48 pgs. hardcover, Creston Books, 2002, $18.99


The newest title in the children’s Wilcox and Griswold Mystery series, “The Case of the Bad Apples” pits policemouse Detective Wilcox and his boss Captain Griswold against whoever tried to poison Porcini the pig. Porcini lives on a farm with over 100 other animals. Every day sees a food problem out there. “Sometimes it’s missing or lost. Sometimes it’s stolen. Sometimes it’s just applesauce.”

They learn that Porcini got sick when he pigged out on almost an entire basket of apples. “Well, he IS a pig,” observes Wilcox.

Wilcox and Griswold, with MFIs – Missing Food Investigators – set out in search of the truth as fast as their tiny legs can propel them. Rush hour traffic delays them, a snarl of squealing, oinking, and grunting road hogs. They talk to Sweet Pea, a piglet; Herman the Vermin, a rat; and Hot Dog, a canine. At one time or another, every one of these suspects has sneaked into Porcini’s pen and for that, he threw them out. But do they really want to hurt him?

The sleuths draw a sketch of the scene, take photographs, dust for prints, and head over to forensics. Might a copy of the book “Snow White” hold a clue? In the course of the tale, marginal notebook-style definitions for young readers shed light on terminology. For instance: “Perp: That’s the bad guy who committed the crime” and “Alibi: Proof someone was somewhere else when a crime was committed.”

Needless to say, Wilcox and Griswold solve their challenge because “Whatever the food, whatever the crime, MFIs make the bad guys do the time.”

Puns abound, wonderfully funny and colorful pictures add to the enjoyment, a fascinating fact about apples emerges, and the story concludes with a recipe for tasty, flaky Apple Pockets pastries.

Robin Newman pursued a career as a practicing attorney and legal editor before she turned her talents to writing about witches, rodents, pigs, and peacocks. Deborah Zemke has authored/illustrated more than 50 children’s books and contributes frequently to “Ranger Rick” magazine. Together, they deliver a sure-fire word-playing teaser with a twist.

This monthly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Other than during the COVID-19 crisis, meetings are held the first Thursday evening of each month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church and free programs are offered throughout the year.

Ridge Writers’ books “Scenes from Lives of Service: High Desert Veterans of WWI through Desert Storm” and “Planet Mojave: Visions from a World Apart” are available at the Historic USO Building, Jawbone Canyon, Maturango Museum, and Red Rock Books.

Story First Published: 2020-08-14