Thursday, July 23, 2009

48. The Case of the Missing Marquess - Nancy Springer

Enola Holmes Mystery #1
Philomel Books, 2006
216 pgs
Rating: 4
Grades 5-8

Enola Holmes is one cool 14 year-old. She lives with her elderly mother on an estate outside London. And one day, on Enola's 14th birthday, her mother disappears. Her two older brothers come from London to take over Enola's future. And one of those brothers is Sherlock Holmes. Their decision is to make a lady out of her, and to send her to boarding school. She knows this cannot let this happen.

Her mother has left her two books. One is a cipher book that she had created herself, the other a book of flowers. Enola discovers that her mother has left her messages in the ciphers. She has also left her lots and lots of hidden bank notes. But the biggest gift that she has given her is a great sense of independence. So on the day that she is to be transported to boarding school she hatches an ingenious plan, disguises herself, and sets off for the rest of her life. And that is NOT going to be boarding school! On the way she stumbles upon a mystery (an apparently kidnapped rich kid), which she solves with no problem. And at the end of the book, setting us for many books to follow, we find her becoming Ivy Meshle, secretary to the unseen Dr. Leslie T. Ragostin, a famous scientific perditorian. And what is a perditorian? In Enola's words, a "knower of the lost, wise woman of the lsot, finder of the lost."

There are lots of references to Victorian England that might be tough for some kids to understand. Creating a glossary for these references would be something cool to create while reading.

The writing is quite, quite nice, though some of it might be difficult for kids that have a tough time reading:

"My brothers lived here? In this -- this grotesque brick-and-stone parody of any world I had known? With so many chimney-pots and roof-peaks looming dark against a lurid, vaporous orange sky? Lead-coloured clouds hung low while the setting sun oozed molten light between them; the Gothic towers of the city stood festive yet foreboding against that glowering sky, like candles on the Devil's birthday cake. I stared until I grew aware of hordes of indifferent city-dwellers brushing pst me, going about their business. Then I took a deep abreath, closed my mouth, swallowed, and turned my back to this curiously ominous sunset."

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