Mariella Mystery investigates: The Ghostly Guinea Pig by Kate Pankhurst

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Mariella Mystery investigates: The Ghostly Guinea Pig by Kate Pankhurst

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Buy Mariella Mystery investigates: The Ghostly Guinea Pig by Kate Pankhurst at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Trish Simpson-Davis
Reviewed by Trish Simpson-Davis
Summary: Short, cosy crime for newly-independent girl readers from 6-9 years. Look out for the series.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: April 2013
Publisher: Orion
ISBN: 978-1444008883

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Just picking up this book will be enough to entice most girls into reading it. The book’s appeal is overwhelmingly visual, although it’s a proper story for newly fluent readers. Mariella’s journal is decorated with her own lively black and white cartoons; I particularly liked her feckless guinea pigs. Pages from The Young Super Sleuth’s Handbook, the local newspaper and Mariella’s other sources of information add up to contextual clues on every page to supplement the text. With minimal help, your youngster should be able to suss out the story. This is intended as the first book in a series, a great way of engaging less confident readers once they’re hooked into plot-conjecture and aspirational characters.

Mariella Mystery has two friends, Poppy Holmes and Violet Maple. They are The Mystery Girls, a comfortably cosy detective agency dedicated to solving reassuringly homely mysteries. This time an eerily green, glowing guinea pig pops up. Poppy is preoccupied with rehearsals for the upcoming village talent show, but Mariella is not to be diverted from her investigations. Learning fast from The Young Super Sleuth’s Handbook, Mariella comes up with several logical explanations, none of which solves the mystery. Indeed, there are soon ghostly guinea pigs sightings all over the place. It takes observation and enquiring young detectives on the ground to uncover the truth.

I liked Mariella. She is clever and resourceful; confident enough to make decisions and chat to adults yet naughty enough to deal her pesky little brother his just desserts. And of course she has a wicked way with words. The other characters have little substance yet, but they have room to develop in the future.

Mariella Mystery’s investigations aren’t going to seed any nightmares. The tone is light-hearted. If anything, I found it a bit bland and conventional. There’s plenty of scope to up the excitement stakes in later books as the girls learn more about detective work.

This is firmly girls-own territory. I do hope Kate Pankhurst is turning her mind to a great story for boys next.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending it.

If you’re looking for something at a similar reading and interest level, Penny Dreadful is a Complete Catastrophe by Joanna Nadin might appeal. A little detective work of my own produced a couple of series at the next reading level up. Agatha Parrot and the Floating Head by Kjartan Poskitt and David Tazzyman and Agatha Parrot and the Mushroom Boy by Kjartan Poskitt and David Tazzyman come highly recommended by Bookbag Towers. For slightly older children, we liked The Rose of Africa (Baker Street Mysteries) by Tim Pigott-Smith.

Buy Mariella Mystery investigates: The Ghostly Guinea Pig by Kate Pankhurst at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mariella Mystery investigates: The Ghostly Guinea Pig by Kate Pankhurst at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Mariella Mystery investigates: The Ghostly Guinea Pig by Kate Pankhurst at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mariella Mystery investigates: The Ghostly Guinea Pig by Kate Pankhurst at Amazon.com.

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