I have just finished reading the children’s story The Mystery of Castle MacGorilla by David Bentley Hart. “What?” you ask. “The metaphysician, controversialist, and grandmaster of archaic vocabulary has written a children’s story? Surely you jest?” No, I do not jest. David has given us a delightful and whimsical tale, peopled with talking stuffed animals and sentient canines—a tale of high drama, Musaceaen cuisine, theft, chicanery, deception, a wild chase in a garden maze, and serious detective work. In other words, a mystery in the tradition of Agatha Christie.
Our detective is Theodore Bear, who goes by the name of Teddy. Think of him as the American version of Hercule Poirot, only much smaller, no moustache, and less persnickety. He is accompanied by his schoolmate Porculina (pronounced “por-su-lina”), a stuffed pig who is the creator and part-owner of the world’s largest manufacturer of cosmetics for soft toys. They have been invited by their mutual friend Gorilla to join him at his castle in Scotland for the grand celebration of his elevation to the title of Laird. It is a grand affair which quickly turns into a whodonnit mystery when the MacGorilla treasures are stolen in the midst of a blizzard. The treasure room is locked from the inside and there are no footprints in the snow outside the windows. Everyone’s a suspect. But thankfully, Detective Teddy is there to solve the conundrum and put the toy world to rights.
I don’t want to spoil the tale for you, but I’ll give you this hint: “Justice must be tampered with by Murphy!”
I am eager to read the book to my grandson Ahlrich. I just have to figure out how old he needs to be to enjoy it. At six-years old I’m sure he is still too young. Maybe when he’s ten or twelve or twenty-five. But I am sure that you, my adult readers, will enjoy The Mystery of Castle MacGorilla!