Review Blog

Nov 24 2015

Crowns and Codebreakers by Elen Caldecott

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The Marsh Road Mysteries series, Bloomsbury, 2015. ISBN 9781408852712
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Themes: Mystery; Grandparents; Friendship; Adventure; African culture. When Minnie's Grandma arrives from Nigeria she picks up the wrong suitcase at the airport which sparks a mystery that the police do not seem to respond to, and that Minnie and her friends must solve to give the superstitious grandmother some peace. The wrong suitcase contains some evidence that is initially curious, but proves to be increasingly dangerous as the young 'crime solvers' set out to unravel the mystery and rescue a small boy. Along the way, Minnie and her friends use all their personal talents to good effect to slowly solve the problems that arise; and to solve the dilemmas that arise in Minnie's family as an extra person in her house creates family complications.
This is an excellent Mystery adventure for younger readers - the young crime-solvers are adept at untwisting the clues without adult intervention. It also addresses friendship issues, and family cohesion in an English context, with cross-cultural influences. It would be suited to a talented younger reader aged 8+ all the way to a young teen. It does not patronise younger readers, nor does it ignore some of the factors that the young characters need to consider eg gaining permission to leave the house, or the difficulties of sharing a room with a Grandmother - particularly when the room is too small for two beds! The cross-cultural information is also low-key, but interesting as a complicating factor.
Carolyn Hull

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