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johnson wilson and the case of the broken baby is a short photo-story in six parts, written and staged by pamela klaffke and her daughter, emma.

©pamela klaffke, all rights reserved


johnson wilson is eight, she is a private investigator. her arch-enemy is the trickster. she goes to discos. she has a dog called trent. she drinks white wine. she has no parents.


I couldn’t be sure I was on the same path that I saw the trickster on in my dream since I hadn’t been to the schoolhouse in a while. My teacher knows all about my important investigations and lets me take work home or sometimes draw a picture instead of doing math or spelling. And one time at show-and-tell I brought my magnifying glass and walkie-talkie, but all the boys wanted to play with them and got germs all over which was gross and I had to wash them when I got home. It was okay that travis played with them at recess because I think he’s cute and he’s nine and I don’t think he has as many germs.

School hadn’t started and everybody was playing and running in the field. I rushed around asking about the trickster, but the kids were doing games and chasing each other and weren’t being serious. I climbed to the top of the slide and shouted, “Has anyone seen the trickster? He’s broken the baby and I need your help!” a group of girls laughed and started saying, “has anyone seen the trickster? Has anyone seen the trickster?” they were pretending to sound like me and act like me and that makes me more mad than anything. I untied one of the broken baby’s arms from my belt, slid down the slide and smacked each of the girls in the face with the arm until they started crying.

“There he goes!” travis yelled and pointed to the side doors of the school. It was the trickster all right, slipping into the building. I ran super fast to catch up, but by the time I was inside he’d disappeared and I couldn’t tell which way he went. But then I thought that if the trickster did everything the same as always did, he’d want me to find the next part of that broken baby and he’d put it somewhere I’d be sure to go – like my homeroom.

I saw it as soon as I walked in. the body of the broken baby was on my desk at the back of the class and the trickster had put an apple where her head should be. I sat down because I needed to make a plan and take some notes, but there were books covering my notepad and the books weren’t mine and one was open to a page with a picture of the trickster. I investigated the books closer. They were from the library and they were overdue. I grabbed the books and the baby’s body off my desk. I left the apple for my teacher and ran out of the class as the morning bell rang. School would have to wait.