Spratt, R. A. Friday Barnes, Girl Detective. Phil Gosier, Illus. Fiction. Friday Barnes Series, Bk. 1. Roaring Brook, 01/2016. 272pp. $13.99. 978-1-62672-297-2. HIGH ADDITIONAL. GRADES 3-6.
In this hilarious first book in a new series, Nanny Piggins creator Spratt introduces Friday Barnes, a very, very smart and forthright 11-year-old girl detective. Ignored by her family of academics, Friday loses herself in books and, after reading many detective novels, she decides to start solving mysteries herself. Spending the reward for foiling a diamond theft on a year’s tuition at fancy Highcrest Academy, Friday finds a friend and crime-solving partner, Melanie; acquires a nemesis, the distractingly dishy Ian; and cracks cases ranging from missing homework to the identity of the yeti in the swamp. Friday’s unwittingly deadpan humor, along with sharp authorial pokes at teachers, rich kids, and parents, is drier and more sophisticated than one would typically find in an elementary grade book but remains accessible. Though the appealing illustrations don’t quite capture the text’s offbeat tone, they do show an ethnically diverse student body. With four books already published in Australia, readers will be pleased that the cliffhanger ending will undoubtedly be followed by more comical whodunits for Friday to unravel. Review based on an ARC.
Hayley Beale, San Francisco Univ High School