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Wilma Tenderfoot and the Case of the Frozen Hearts by Emma Kennedy

Being a detective always sounds like such an exciting career choice, and for ten-year-old Wilma Tenderfoot it is her heartfelt desire to become an apprentice to the famous detective, Theodore P. Goodman. As an orphan at the Lowside Institute for Woeful Children it seems unlikely that she will ever achieve her dream. However, when she gets placed with an elderly, cantankerous lady on the Farside of the island her horizons begin to widen. Once in her new home she meets her new best friend, a little scruffy beagle called Pickle, and discovers that her next door neighbour is none other than Theodore P. Goodman himself! However, in her desperate attempts to impress him with her detecting skills when a priceless jewel goes missing on the island she puts herself in great danger, risking her position in her new home and, ultimately, her life.

Wilma Tenderfoot and the Case of the Frozen Hearts by Emma Kennedy

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A quirky little book that totally tickled my funny bone. Wonderful!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: July 2009
Publisher: Macmillan's Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0330469517

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I absolutely loved this little book. I'm a bit of a detective story fan anyway but this one, a funny children's detective story was just brilliant. All the action takes place on Cooper Island, a strange little island in between England and France that no-one has ever bothered to discover. It is divided into two areas, the Lowside and the Farside, with the Farsiders looking down on the Lowsiders. Everyone is larger than life, with Mrs Speckle whose entire wardrobe of outfits is knitted, including her knitted wellington boots, or the villainous Barbu who is a little on the short side and so very sensitive to any height-related comments. I personally grew very attached to Inspector Lemone, sympathising with his unrequited love for Mrs Speckle, his constant hunger, and his penchant for corn crumbles (which are Theodore P. Goodman's favourite biscuits that somehow keep getting eaten by everyone but him). Wilma herself is a a delightfully feisty and cheeky heroine, rushing headlong into trouble at every opportunity, but she's endearingly eager rather than annoying, so that's okay.

Emma Kennedy has a zany sense of humour, and along with the usual gross stuff that kids love (one of Wilma's jobs is to bite her mistress' toenails short for her!) she also manages to write wonderful little snippets that would make me snort as I devoured the story. There are comments and asides by the author/narrator throughout, and she explains little issues that crop up in terms that make grown-ups seem very silly indeed. I won't comment on the guess-ability of the whodunit side of things since I guessed totally wrong! I liked that I hadn't really figured out who the culprit was, although really I think the story is less about the crimes and more about the characters involved. There are some murders, obviously, but you don't need to be worried about your little sweetheart's sensitivities as there's nothing too scary and everything has a light, funny touch.

My proof copy sadly did not yet have the illustrations included, but I had a little peek at one in the bookshop the other day and there are some nice, quirky little pictures, clues and maps and so forth. The book itself is very well presented, a nice size to hold and with a gimmicky cover with heat sensitive panels that you can press with your thumb to reveal a picture clue beneath. Sadly I was reading my copy during the out-of-the-ordinary heatwave we had recently and so all the panels were already displayed and they stayed that way for days until finally it rained and I got to play at pressing the pictures down to make them appear.

I loved this book, and very nearly gave it five stars but I docked a half in the end because I felt that the last few chapters were lacking some of the earlier humour. Still, I'm glad to read on Emma Kennedy's website that she's just finishing up the draft of the next Wilma story. It has plenty of life in it for a good few books yet I suspect. Go buy it for your kids. Or for yourself and you can just pretend it's for your kids, or your friend's kids, or your neighbour's hairdresser's auntie's won't regret it!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For a funny horror detective story you could try Skulduggery Pleasant or for another young detective try Half Moon Investigations.

Buy Wilma Tenderfoot and the Case of the Frozen Hearts by Emma Kennedy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wilma Tenderfoot and the Case of the Frozen Hearts by Emma Kennedy at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Wilma Tenderfoot and the Case of the Frozen Hearts by Emma Kennedy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wilma Tenderfoot and the Case of the Frozen Hearts by Emma Kennedy at


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Claire Pearson saidsaid:

Dear Bookbag,

The review of this book is already making my fingers itch enough to order it immediately. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy a good mystery and although I love toddler classics such as 'Peepo', I've realised that I'm very much looking forward to the years that will come with my daughter and the books we can share together. Perhaps it is time to start vetting her reading list now. It's great to hear that there are books I'm likely to enjoy too, especially as I don't get enough time to read real adult books these days. Fantastic review.

Thank you! Claire Pearson