Book Review: Libby and the Parisian Puzzle

Title: Libby and the Parisian Puzzle

Written by: Jo Clarke

Illustrated by: Becka Moor

Published by: Firefly Press

Libby and the Parisian Puzzle

I really enjoyed this book and was hooked by the first page. It is such a great concept. Libby and the Parisian Puzzle is the story of a young girl who is being sent to join the Mousedale Travelling School, run by her Aunt Agatha. The school is going to be in Paris that term and Libby’s mum waves goodbye to her from the platform of the Eurostar in London. Libby is conflicted as she is excited to be going to a new school but upset she can’t travel to Ecuador with her photographer mother as she normally would.

Libby is a brilliant character that jumps off the page. Her love of mysteries, impulsiveness, love of photography like her mum and determination to get to the truth no matter what, are ideal traits for this young amateur detective. The concept of a travelling school is ingenious allowing for a different setting each book. A fantastic set-up for this unique new series. At Libby’s new school she meets Connie who is also new and they soon become best friends. The story reminded me of a modern version of the Enid Blyton Malory Towers series, which I loved as a child. They go and visit all the main attractions in Paris and during their visits her Aunt is accused of stealing a distinctive jewelled brooch. Libbie and Connie embark on a quest to prove her innocence.

Jo Clarke has set the age range flawlessly for the lower middle grade reader (age 7 – 9 years). This book had plenty of intrigue and the exact amount of red herrings to keep the young readers turning the pages. Jo shows skill in creating well-developed, believable characters with their own distinguishing features so she just has to mention the white and black zebra patterned coat, or the man with the bow tie and we know instantly who she is talking about.

Jo’s vivid descriptions of Paris brought back memories of my own visits to the Eifel Tower, Montmartre and The Louvre. I particularly liked Libby’s reaction to the Mona Lisa, which resembled my own when I first saw it. She includes lots of food and drink that evokes all the senses. My hankering for macaroons and intake of drinking hot chocolate certainly increased during reading this book. Thank goodness for Options! Her descriptions were complimented perfectly by Becka Moor’s illustrations, from Connie’s long flowing red hair to Libby and Connie’s shared bedroom in the school. The detail in each illustration was superb.

I would recommend this book to all young mystery lovers. Jo includes several mysteries to solve as well as the case of the missing brooch. The build-up of how they prove her Aunt’s innocence and expose the guilty party is cleverly and sensitively plotted, avoiding the children doing anything untoward that would make them just as guilty. This is especially true when you consider how two young children are unlikely to be believed over the word of the adults without suitable evidence to back-up their accusations. The final conclusion was realistic, convincing and a delightful climax to this outstanding debut novel. I also enjoyed the sneak peek chapter for the next book in the series, Libby and the Highland Heist.

This book would be ideal for both shared and independent reading in the classroom and would be a brilliant addition to the class bookshelf and all primary school libraries.

This book was originally reviewed for Armadillo Magazine

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