Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sherlock's Sister

Did you know Sherlock Holmes had a sister? What do you know about Florence Nightingale?

THE CASE OF THE CRYPTIC CRINOLINE by Nancy Springer, Philomel Books, 2009.

Here’s a series mystery to keep middle grade girls happy reading during the long, sticky summer afternoons. Or they could pull this out of a gym bag when they have a few minutes to wait for their car pool to the next camp or activity.

Set in the late 1800's in England, this Enola Holmes mystery offers readers a different side of Florence Nightingale. The author’s note explains what is known and what has been invented all for the sake of a good mystery.

14 year old Enola is the younger sister of the famous Sherlock. Her greatest fear is that big brother will send her to boarding school to learn how to be a proper lady. Horrors! She sets up her own home and lives discretely.

Read Enola’s name backwards and you get a sense of what her life is like, even as she’s free to be herself. She has her brother’s intelligence and her missing mother’s determination to be unfettered by society’s demands. (Where is Mother? Another mystery?) Along with these traits, Enola also seems to have money enabling her to traipse about London becoming embroiled in mischief only when she must in order to save someone else. (Perhaps her private wealth is addressed in an earlier book in the series.)

Nancy Springer has written other books about Enola and other series, too, chiefly, about Rowan Hood (Robin’s relative) and Tales from Camelot. Girls from 3rd grade and up who love a good story will gobble up these books like the crispest of potato chips. Say that 3 times and the sound is like the groups that gather just beyond Enola’s hearing. Enola must move closer, unobserved of course, in disguise, most definitely, and as she does, the reader is pulled into the middle of it all and won’t want to leave.

My mother made reading a reward–after the homework or after the summer day's to-do list was complete. Enola would have given me reason to work faster.

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