17 Mar Who doesn’t love a mystery? Books reviewed for kids 6-14
Here is a mixture of new and old mystery books that will please any budding sleuth!
The Violet Veil Mysteries: A Case of Grave Danger
by Sophie Cleverly and illustrated by Hannah Peck (HarperCollins, paperback RRP $16.99) Age Group 8+ years
The author is known for her Scarlet and Ivy series and with this new series, she introduces Violet Veil, a young girl who wants to become and apprentice at Veil & Sons Undertakers. Walking through the local graveyard at night, past a freshly dug grave, Violet hears moaning and her dog Bones moves close to her leg when “a figure lurched into the light, and I caught a strangled breath in my throat. There, standing before me, was the blond boy. The boy who was supposed to be dead.”
Can Violet solve the mystery of why the murdered boy has come back to life? Who tried to kill him?
The Vanishing at the Very Small Castle
by Jackie French (HarperCollins, paperback RRP $16.99) Age Group 10+ years. (The Butter O’Bryan Mysteries#2)
This story has sleuth in training, Butter O’Bryan, searching for clues to the disappearance of Delilah Devine, movie star, in the middle of filming on Howler’s Beach. Slightly old fashioned in language (the ‘talkie’ is about a mad scientist making a monster), with Butter’s quaint relatives such as Auntie Cake and Aunt Elephant all living at the Very Small Castle somewhere in an imaginary part of Australia. Can Butter solve this mystery. Who is the villain?
Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery
by Renee Treml (Allan & Unwin Children, paperback RRP $14.99) Age Group 6-9 years
‘Hi there, I’m Sherlock Bones.
Who is Sherlock Bones, you ask? Well, I don’t like to brag, but my trusty side-kick Watts says I’m the greatest detective in our whole museum.
Don’t you, Watts?
You might not be able to hear Watts, because he’s technically a stuffed parrot, but I always know what he’s thinking.
Victorian, Renee Tremi has successfully written seven picture books and has set her skills and used her interest in the environment, science and natural history to write this mystery for emerging readers. There’s the baffled police and the bumbling security guard to hide from. Where better to set the mystery of a missing Blue Diamond than after-hours snooping around a natural history museum!
This book is great for emerging readers as it is a ‘graphic novel’ one where the story is told through illustrations made up of frames and panels with the story unfolding through Tremi’s quirky drawings.
The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline: Enola Holmes 5 and
The Case of the Disappearing Duchess: Enola Holmes 6
by Nancy Springer (Allan & Unwin Children, paperback RRP $14.99) Age Group 10-14 years
American author Nancy Springer is a prolific writer who has mostly kept to magical realms, fantasy and now a mystery. Springer’s children’s books have won her two Edgar Allan Poe awards, a Carolyn W. Field award, various Children’s Choice honours and numerous ALA Best Book listings. Her most recent series includes the Tales of Rowan Hood, featuring Robin Hood’s daughter, and the Enola Holmes mysteries, starring the much younger sister of Sherlock Holmes. This series with Enola Holmes is being developed into a major film.
In the first novel, ‘The Case of the Missing Marquess: Enola Holmes’, Springer develops her sleuth, Enola Holmes, the sister to the detective Sherlock Holmes, who discovers her mother has disappeared, and she quickly embarks on a journey to London in search of her.
In the fifth book, Enola Holmes’s lonely late 19th century London days are shaken up when her landlady, Mrs. Tupper, is kidnapped! There are some historical connections and links to the Crimean war with Florence Nightingale and some graphic description of field hospitals.
As Enola pursues clues thirty-five years later, in her search for Mrs. Tupper, she finds that Florence Nightingale and her own brother – Sherlock Holmes – are involved. Soon Enola finds herself jumping out of windows, deciphering a mysterious code, and putting her hidden dagger to use – and she won’t rest until poor Mrs. Tupper is safe at home!
In the sixth and final book ‘The Case of the Disappearing Duchess’ we find that the Holmes family is becoming more intertwined with Mycroft, Sherlock and Enola trying to solve a triple mystery.
The Night Ride into Danger
by Jackie French (HarperCollins, paperback RRP $16.99) Age Group 10+ years. Available May 2021.
Jackie French brings more Aussie history alive with this tale of a Cobb & Co journey set in 1874. The roads are rough bush tracks on the way from Braidwood to Goulburn, with dangers lurking. One night, with a coach load of strangers, one of the four horses stumbles. Jem Donovan’s father, the Coach-driver, is injured and Jem has to take over transporting the passengers safely to their destination. Based on true stories with bushrangers, treasure, a newborn baby and the dark secrets of the mysterious Coach passengers, can Jem do it?
Yahoo Creek. An Australian Mystery
by Tohby Riddle (Allan & Unwin Children, picture book RRP $29.99) Age Group 7-11 years
Tohby Riddle is a former editor of The School Magazine, a literary magazine for children published by the NSW Department of Education. He is based in the Blue Mountains, NSW where the extensive bushland has given rise to many mysteries.
This book was written in an unusual way using extracts from newspapers ranging from the early colonial ‘til more recent times about the sightings of the ‘Yahoo’, a mythical hairy man recorded all the way down the eastern Australian coast. The newspaper reports are woven into the story of Peter Williams, Ngiyampaa Elder from North West NSW, handed down through ‘ceremony’ about the ‘big fella Berai’ and the little fella’ yuriwirrina.
The beautiful pen and ink wash drawings juxtapose the ‘scary’ reports from the newspapers with the local stories of the Ngiyampaa.