Eye Spy by Tessa Buckley
|Eye Spy by Tessa Buckley|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Enjoyable adventure for middle grade readers, combining a mystery and family drama. Accessible and well-paced with a dollop of humour, it's a really fun read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 113||Date: June 2014|
|External links: Author's website|
Twins Alex and Donna live in a somewhat unusual household. Their mum died when they were tiny so they live with their father and grandmother. Nan does all the heavy lifting in the household - she cooks, cleans, works, goes to parents evenings at school. Dad spends most of his time in his workshop - a converted railway carriage at the end of the garden. Dad, you see, is an inventor - and a rather eccentric and preoccupied inventor at that.
Because Dad hasn't sold any of his inventions yet and because Nan doesn't earn much as a school dinnerlady and part-time cleaner, there isn't much money sloshing around the house. In an attempt to earn some, Alex and Donna set up Eye Spy Investigations. Their first case is that of Kiki, a dog who has gone missing. The main suspects for the potential dog-napper are a homeless lady, a mysterious Russian in a fur hat and the bikers who hang out at a local cafe.
But animal crime isn't the only preoccupation for Alex and Donna. They're also determined to help their father commercialise Hamish the robot, his latest invention. These efforts lead the twins to uncover a shocking family secret about the mother they never knew.
Will the twins find Kiki? Will Hamish reverse the family fortunes? Will Dad come clean? Read Eye Spy to find out...
I thoroughly enjoyed this contemporary adventure story. It combines a mystery tale - where is Kiki, the missing dog? - with a family drama of secrets and lies. The mystery thread has a touch of the Enid Blyton about it, with a brother and sister pluckily investigating what they perceive to be a crime. And the family drama is much more contemporary, inhabiting an emotional landscape that children of today will all recognise. Parents are often less than truthful with their offspring, thinking to protect them. But children know when things aren't right. And Alex and Donna know things aren't right.
I loved the setting in Holcombe Bay, a seaside town that seems like an amalgamation of all the British seaside resorts I know and went to as a child. You can almost hear the seagulls, taste the icecream and feel the sand on the beach beneath your feet.
The writing is accessible and straightforward with a good pace and well-chosen vocabulary. Twins Alex and Donna are as close and close can be but they're also like chalk and cheese. Alex is reserved and cautious. Donna is outspoken and wears her heart on her sleeve. Readers will identify with and sympathise with them both. And there are some serious social issues covered gently too - I can imagine discussions about homelessness and our treatment of street people after children have read Eye Spy.
All in all, this story comes recommended by us. It's fun, yet serious too. And it has a really good heart.
You can read more book reviews or buy Eye Spy by Tessa Buckley at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Eye Spy by Tessa Buckley at Amazon.com.
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