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Detectives in Togas

Detectives in Togas

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) Henry Winterfeld, Edited by Michael Stearns, Illustrated by Charlotte Kleinert, Translated by Clara Winston, Translated by Professor Richard Winston

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  • Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing Co Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 191mm x 18mm | 295g
  • Publication date: 1 November 2002
  • Publication City/Country: Belmont, CA
  • ISBN 10: 0152162801
  • ISBN 13: 9780152162801
  • Edition statement: Green Light Rea.
  • Sales rank: 31,954

Product description

In these two delightful history-mysteries, seven boys in Ancient Rome solve strange crimes . . . thanks to some help from their cranky teacher, a little bit of logic, and a lot of amusing misadventure. Yes, Rufus wrote CAIUS IS A DUMBBELL on his tablet at school, but no, he did "not "break into the schoolroom, did "not" tie up his teacher, and certainly did "not "paint his slur about Caius on the Temple of Minerva (even if it "is "in Rufus's own handwriting). Rufus is doomed unless his six classmates can find out who is "really "responsible. Every hour seems to bring a new, confusing clue . . . until the boys finally stumble upon someone who is not what he appears to be.

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Customer reviews

By Wayne S. Walker 31 Jul 2013 5

It is at some unspecified time of the ancient Roman Empire, and Mucius, Rufus, Caius, Antonius, Flavius, Julius, and Publius are all students in the school of Xanthos, whom the boys nicknamed Xantippus because he reminded them of Socrates's bad-tempered wife Xantippe. Caius had disturbed Rufus and wouldn't let him study, so Rufus angrily writes "Caius is a dumbbell" on his wax tablet which he hangs on the wall. When Xantippus sees it, he sends Rufus home and threatens to expel him. When the boys arrive at school the next morning, they find that someone has broken into the schoolroom, attacked Xantippus, and stolen several articles, including Rufus's tablet. But then an even worse crime is committed. They find that someone has written "Caius is a dumbbell" on the temple of Minerva dedicated to the Emperor by Caius's father Senator Vinicius.

Unfortunately, the handwriting expert Scribonius confirms that it is in Rufus's handwriting, so while Rufus steadfastly denies that he wrote it, he is taken off to prison and is slated to be sold as a galley slave. The boys must look for clues to find the real culprit and save Rufus. Who might have been responsible for it? Could it be Senator Vinicius, or Lukos the astrologist whose house is across the street from Xantippus's school, or even the Emperor who is jealous over the military victories of General Praetonius who just happens to be Rurus's father? Or is there someone else lurking about? And will they be able to solve the case in time to spare Rufus? I first heard about Detectives in Togas back in 2007 when it was recommended by Love to Learn, a homeschool resource company. This delightful story not only presents readers with a suspenseful yet good, clean mystery but also gives youngsters a lot of insight into daily life in ancient Rome, with a good dose of humor along the way and a surprise ending.

During excavations at Pompeii, a temple wall was found on which the words "Casius Asinus Est" were written. These literally mean "Caius is an ass," i.e., a stupid person, and this fascinating bit of history forms the basis for Winterfeld's imaginary plot. Author Henry Winterfeld (1901-1990) was born in Germany, wrote his first children's book Trouble at Timpetill in 1933, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1940. He originally wrote Detectives in Togas in German as Caius ist ein Dummkopf, and it was translated into English by Clara and Richard Winston. Being set in ancient Rome, it contains numerous references to the Roman gods, including such exclamations as "by all the good gods," and to drinking wine. However, it corroborates the fact that the Emperor insisted on being worshipped as a god, which was the basis for the persecution of Christians in those days. There is also a moral to the story, as Xantippus uses the fate of the criminal to remind the boys that "The path of vice leads inevitably to ruin." A sequel is entitled Mystery of the Roman Ransom.

By Esther Allen 26 Mar 2011 5

Set in ancient Rome this hilarious and original whodunit will be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Perfect to read aloud to the family, they'll be calling for "just one more chapter"; even a reluctant reader will be sneaking the book to read ahead. Full of suspense and intrigue, and historical details naturally woven throughout; this book needs more than 5 stars!

Review quote

"An original and humorous mystery story . . . tied neatly into a plot that has continuous suspense. . . . The boys are real in their mischief and eager deducing, and the historical details are so naturally a part of the story that the whole has a liveliness that the pictures suggest."--"The""Horn Book"