Monday, February 4, 2013

"The Case of the Frozen Hearts"

Plucky young girl detectives are a dime a dozen. Some are extraordinary (paging Enola Holmes!) and others are classics (my girls at the library are currently devouring Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew, Nancy’s latest incarnation). Some, sadly, miss the mark. Luckily, this isn’t the case with Wilma Tenderfoot, whose first adventure The Case of the Frozen Hearts, is a delightful afternoon read for a dreary winter's day.

Wilma is an orphan at the Cooper Island Lowside Institute for Woeful Children. Though her past is unknown, she has definite plans for her future. She is going to be a detective, just like her hero and Cooper Island’s most famous detective, Theodore P. Goodman. She starts small, attempting to solve crimes from around the Institute, but knows that her biggest mystery will be her own: where did she come from and who left her with the perplexing luggage tag that is her only tie to her family? But when Wilma is hired out (sold, really) to an unpleasant woman on Farside, and she discovers that her brand new neighbor is none other than Mr. Goodman himself, Wilma knows her life is about to change. There’s a new mystery, the theft of a rare and unique gem on the island, and she’s determined to show Mr. Goodman she has what it takes to face down the Criminal Element, follow the clues, and become a great detective’s apprentice.
As I’ve said, girl detectives are old hat. It takes a little something special to make them stand out these days, and author Emma Kennedy has that something special. Wilma on her own isn’t all that original; we’ve all seen the plucky young orphan before. But her spirit and indefatigability are quite catching and the friendship she forms with another outcast, dog Pickles, is warm and charming. Kennedy also packs her story with interesting side characters, from the smart and kind Detective Goodman, to the evil-minded Barbu D’Anvers, who is keen on catching the thief, if only to steal the gem for himself. The writing style is as charming as Wilma herself, with clever asides and addresses to the reader.
Wilma Tenderfoot is my kind of gal. If at first she doesn’t succeed, she tries, tries again. And again and again. I look forward to reading the further adventures of Wilma and her friends because I know with Ms. Kennedy they are in more than capable hands.

Wilma Tenderfoot: The Case of the Frozen Hearts by Emma Kennedy
2011, Dial
Personal copy

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