Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s
Extent: 272 pages
Ace amateur super sleuth Friday Barnes just gets busier and busier! In the third of the series, young Friday finds a perfect swarm of mysterious goings on at Highcrest Academy. Firstly, there is the unexpected visit from her absentminded father when he brings the dreadful news of the disappearance of Friday’s mum. Has she been kidnapped? Has there been some kind of terrible accident? Friday’s mood is not helped by having her father installed at her school until things have been sorted out. This is particularly so because the Headmaster also needs her help. Not only is there a huge kerfuffle with the arrival of new student, Princess Ingrid of Norway but it seems a thief is at large. The elusive Pimpernel is leaving calling cards everywhere and personal items are disappearing at rapid rate.
Friday’s relationship with her nemesis Ian Wainscott seems poised on the edge of a change after she helps Ian’s mum thwart her ex-husband’s attempt to leave her in financial ruin. Certainly some of her classmates are eagerly awaiting a shift in the dynamic!
Friday’s giftedness is never grating, probably because it is balanced so delightfully with her social ineptitude. Her gauche geekiness is really very endearing and Spratt’s characterisations are always a triumph.
Another very positive aspect to Spratt’s writing is her ability to weave a more sophisticated vocabulary into the text with a full expectation that her tween readers will correctly interpret it. And they do! These books are proving very popular in our library with our new-to-high-school Year 7 girls. For that reason it is just wonderful to see that the next volume will be published in early 2016.
Highly recommended for your budding detectives from around 9 years upwards.