The Case of the Burgled Bundle is the third book in Michael Hutchinson’s “Mighty Muskrat Mystery” series. In this chapter book, Hutchinson delightfully intertwines Cree cultural tradition with mysteries that are appropriate for a 9- to 12-year-old audience.
The Mighty Muskrats are a group of four cousins—Chickadee, Atim, Otter, and Sam—who live in a fictitious community within the boundaries of a fictitious treaty. The Mighty Muskrats model the detective skills of their Uncle Levi, who is the local Band Constable. The Cree story bundle goes missing from the tent right after one of the Mighty Muskrats accidentally kicks the bundle during a traditional feast. Was it taken out of an act of jealousy or out of an act of financial desperation? One by one, the foursome dispel possible suspects until there are none left. However, out of the careful detective work springs one last clue that leads them to solve this mystery.
Here is a soft introduction to moving forward from the realities of colonialism and Indian Residential Schools toward a life steeped in ceremony yet synonymous with walking with Creator. It takes the reader on a tour of the traditional Cree lifestyle. From family gatherings to community feasts, the author beautifully captures First Nations culture and spiritual traditions that exist in many communities. This series introduces cultural concepts such as the role of traditional elders, bundle carriers, and pipe ceremony in an accessible and easy-to-understand manner that does not take away from the wonder of personal experience. Christian parents could use this as a starting point to discuss cultural differences and discernment and share a Christian perspective.
Hutchinson’s storytelling abilities bring this tale to life as he brings his young audience on a tour of Plains Cree culture that is characteristic of the Canadian plains. The author’s experience as an APTN (Aboriginal People’s Television Network) journalist shines through in this well-written detective story aimed at young readers who crave traditional stories of Plains Cree culture. (Second Story Press)