CM . . .
. Volume XVIII Number 8. . . .October 21, 2011
A treasure hunt, a family get-together, a beloved cottage threatened by by an evil mining consortium -- The Case of the Missing Deed has them all! The five cousins, aged between nine and thirteen, are determined to save Grandma's cottage from being bought by Tantalus Mining or, if the deed Grandpa hid somewhere before he died really can't be found, its reverting to the crown and the mining company getting it though the province. Finding the deed is essential, but Grandma can't remember where Grandpa told her it was hidden, and they all knew that he disliked banks and safety-deposit boxes. Grandpa did love puzzles and riddles, however, and so he provided the clues to where he put the deed, written onto a selection of Grandma's recipes. But which recipes of the hundreds she had, and what do the clues mean? How do they fit together? As well, Sébastien, in particular, is worried about who can be trusted. Is his mother's new boyfriend really a friend, or is he in cahoots with Tantalus; is the guy his sister has such a crush on really being helpful, or is he trying to lead them in a wrong direction?
All the children contribute to the solution of the puzzle, even 13-year-old Geneviève who is cell-phone mad and love-struck into the bargain, but it is 11-year-old Sébastien who teases the final clues from their cryptic wrappings and sinks Tantalus's plans. Sébastien and his grandfather had always enjoyed working out problems together, and now Seb has a chance, in a sense, to repay Grandpa for the love and time they shared. All the cousins learn and develop during their summer together, and Ellen Schwartz manages to make all five of them individuals and not just a group. Seb is brainy all right, but Alex and Claire are the two that used to go fishing with Grandpa and so knew where to hunt along the shore for the 'treasure in the sand'. And so on.
It will be interesting to see how this series develops, for a series it is labelled and is destined to be. This book was Sébastien's; perhaps the next will be Olivia's and have something to do with the passion for painting that she shares with her grandmother and her aunt? The Teaspoon Detectives will surely ride -- or cook!-- again, and I, for one, look forward to the results. I have not yet tried the recipes for Grandma's favourite pesto, or Claire's emergency fudge, but they sound delicious and designed to appeal to young readers. ("A bit heavy on the sweets!" as Aunt Meg notes wryly.) Since mysteries associated with cooking have become increasingly popular with the adult-reading crowd; why should they not appeal to the young as well? Schwartz has found a real recipe for success in this series.
Mary Thomas has recently retired from working in a school library in Winnipeg, MB, and now has more time for cooking.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.