Daring Detectives, Silly Similes and Time Turned Topsy-Turvy: Find a Fun Early Chapter Read with Julie Anne Grasso's
Melinda T. Falgoust
When 10-year old Frankie Dupont scrambles to his mailbox, a slimy frog is NOT what he expects to find. It's the first unexpected twist in delightful early-chapter mystery by Australian author, Julie Anne Grasso. Author of the Cardamom series (see my review here), in which our lead character is an ambitious elf who saves her planet, Ms. Grasso introduces readers to yet another cast of colorful characters including Frankie Dupont, boy-detective.
The mystery begins when Frankie finds a foreboding black envelope in his mailbox. Before he can open the mysterious mail, Frankie learns that his favorite cousin is missing! Son of a brilliant detective, Frankie, like a frog, naturally jumps right into the case (assuming, of course, it was with a lot less slime).
The best mysteries take place in mysterious places and there is none more mysterious than Enderby Manor, the last place cousin Kat was seen. At least, that's what Frankie's mother says Problem is, Frankie doesn't seem quite sure where the place even exists. But, our intrepid hero follows his mother's instructions and finds the "creeptastic" manor, behind a awful black iron fence and covered in claustrophobic vines.
Once inside, Frankie begins to realize that things aren't exactly as they seem - some things just seem out-of-place. Or, are they out-of-time? Whatever it is, Frankie just can't quite put his finger on it. If he can stay out of the way of the bumbling police inspector, he just might find the answers he's looking for, though.
Ms. Grasso plays with the feel of American noir detectives in this children's mystery with Frankie's signature fedora and trenchcoat. She also tips her hat to the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by naming Frankie's canine companion Sherlock. I was reminded of some of my favorite young detectives growing up - like Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and especially Encyclopedia Brown. These little familiar tidbits are quite a bit of fun. However, what's a lot of fun for the reader are the silly similes sprinkled (a lot like my alliteration, LOL) throughout the story. They are silly only in that they bring to mind some very giggle-inspiring pictures to the reader's mind: trilled like a canary; like a return serve; and like some kind of weird, green toupee.
There's more fun wordplay going on with some of the characters' names. I won't delve too deeply here...what's a mystery if someone spoils the ending, right? What a good mystery also has is a breadcrumb trail of clues scattered throughout the plot, and Ms. Grasso has dropped just enough for readers to pick up along with Frankie so that they can be just as successful in solving the mystery with Frankie. It's no mystery - Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor is a delightfully fun read for the early chapter-book reader!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
With a background in paediatric nursing, Julie Anne Grasso spent many years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day she witnessed great courage and resilience from the tiny people she cared for, which inspired her to write stories to encourage and entertain them. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Danny and their little girl, Giselle. For more books by Julie Anne Grasso, check out The Adventures Of Caramel Cardamom Trilogy. For more info, or to meet up with the author, visit her webpage.
***Disclaimer - I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.