An entertaining read with a gentle lilting humour rather than laugh out loud jokes. Recommended for girls 7+.
When Mariella Mystery (amazing girl detective, aged nine and a bit) and the other Mystery Girls – Violet and Poppy – start to investigate the disappearance of their neighbour’s cat they think it’s going to be an easy case. Aren’t missing cats usually just stuck up a tree or off visiting a house where there’s tastier food? But the girls’ views begin to change when more and more cats start to disappear. Soon everyone in Puddleford is worried. The situation is suddenly serious and it’s up to the Mystery Girls to put an end to the catnapping.
Book six in a series, this is the first time I’ve read one of the Mariella Mystery books. I’m used to straightforward narrative so it took me a little while to familiarise myself with the style of this book which is a combination of traditional storytelling, case review notes from the three Mystery girls, diary entries, and black and white pictures. However, I’m sure the target audience for the book – girls approximately seven plus – will have no such difficulty.
Narrated in first person by the main character it’s easy to feel close to Mariella and to identify with her worries and concerns. I could certainly understand why she found her little brother Arthur so annoying and I quickly shared her concern for her own missing cat – her trusty sidekick Watson.
An entertaining read, the book has a gentle lilting humour rather than laugh out loud jokes. For example, it really made me smile when Mariella starts to obsess about whether her cat Watson would still have the fake moustache he’d been wearing when he disappeared: after all, it was the best of their detective fake moustaches! I also loved the Mystery Girls’ ideas for potential detective gadgets, especially the ‘Lunch Launcher’ (lunchboxes that turn into rocket packs).
In layout the book reminds me a little bit of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy kid series but I much prefer Kate Pankhurst’s illustrations. The cats are great (but I guess I would think that given I have six cats!) and I particularly love the pictures under each of the key dates in their investigation. For example, beneath the date ‘Thursday 23rd April’, we have illustrations of the various transport options the mysterious catnapper might have used – a supermarket trolley, bike, van and old lady pulling a shopping bag on wheels.
The mystery itself is well set up so all the clues are there but we don’t discover how they fit together until the very end. Overall this is an enjoyable read and I would recommend it for girls aged seven upwards. Further reading suggestion: Penny Dreadful is a Complete Catastrophe by Joanna Nadin or Mariella Mystery investigates: The Ghostly Guinea Pig by Kate Pankhurst.
Date: April 2015
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Author’s Website: Kate Pankhurst
Review first published on The Bookbag