Dakota Crumb: Tiny Treasure Hunter
By Jamie Michalak, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Candlewick Press, July 6), ages 3-7, 32 pages, $17.99
Dakota Crumb, an anthropomorphic mouse in a red pullover turtleneck sweater, is armed with ambition, a treasure map and a grappling and/or fish hook. She breaks into a big museum in the night and sets about taking things. She takes small things, and before we grow too concerned about her burglarizing cultural treasurers, note that the items she takes are on the order of litter.
Perhaps she misunderstands her role in life, which appears to be garbage collector. Or maybe mice appreciate trash as treasure? Either way, as she scurries about spotting items, she clambers over and around classical-looking artwork. She stuffs the items she finds into a sack.
One legendary item in particular has so far eluded her. Will she find it this night? Spoiler alert: Of course she will. In the process, readers see iconic departments of the museum and have a chance to laugh at the humor injected by illustrator Kelly Murphy into generic depictions of art.
When the mouse finds her fabulous treasure, kids (and adult Egyptologists) might need a bit of coaching to recognize it as a purple gumdrop.
But what is Dakota doing with all the stuff? The answer is a cute surprise, and even more fun is the fact that, once we know, we have a reason to read the book again. The back pages contain images of items we are challenged to look for in the preceding pages.
So this mouse adventure doubles as a memory game.
Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.