FICTION
Sleuth on Skates
illus. by Sarah Horne. 224p. (A Sesame Seade Mystery: Bk. 1). Holiday House. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823431977. ebk. $16.95. ISBN 9780823432554 LC 2014010154.
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Gr 3–5—Precocious 11-year-old Sesame Seade, Cambridge's amateur sleuth-in-residence, is confident that she, using her skates and observation skills, can solve the mystery surrounding a student ballerina's disappearance. Her parents, a professor and a chaplain, exasperated by their daughter's sneaky antics, annoy her with obscure references ("the problem with Sesame is that she's a self-involved little Narcissus"), while other literary allusions are more kid-friendly (Harry Potter). The Seades write off Sesame's sleuthing as eccentricity, leaving her to her own devices with the occasional punishment, including the "gift" of a horridly unsophisticated "Phone4Kidz." Beauvais brings Cambridge alive, while maintaining a quick-paced, laugh-out-loud comedy, and a thought-provoking mystery that explores technology and its use. For graduates of early readers such as Marjorie Weinman Sharmat's Nate the Great, this first installment offers an engrossing whodunit, with charmingly funny prose and illustrations—reminiscent of Lauren Child's Clarice Bean series (Candlewick)—and is an excellent transition to Lemony Snicket.—Hannah Farmer, Austin Public Library, TX
Sophie Margaret Catriona "Sesame" Seade is a type-A roller-skating detective in Cambridge, England. Here she solves a kidnapping and exposes corporate funding skullduggery. During her investigations she breaks into the Fitzwilliam Museum, steals a canoe, and escapes from bad guys by strapping on wings and launching herself out a window. The pace is rambunctious; the adults, Dahl-nasty. Spot illustrations support the high-octane humor.
In this British import we witness the debut of child sleuth Sophie Margaret Catriona Seade, who answers to the name of Sesame. Sesame lives in Cambridge, England, with her academic mother and chaplain father. Cambridge -- its colleges, museums, students, porters, tourists, stray clerics, and politics -- is a rich setting (there is even a cheeky cameo appearance by Stephen Hawking). Sesame is a type-A roller-skating detective with a large vocabulary and a highly developed sense of entitlement. In this story she solves a kidnapping and exposes some corporate funding skullduggery. During the course of her investigations she breaks into the Fitzwilliam Museum, steals a canoe, and escapes from the bad guys by strapping on wings and launching herself out a window. The pace is rambunctious; the adults, Dahl-nasty. Some of the running jokes (pregnant duck, teacher with bad breath) run out of juice, but the clues add up, and Beauvais plays fair with the conceals and reveals. A generous smattering of spot illustrations featuring bug-eyed characters and grotesqueries of various sorts support the jittery, high-octane humor. sarah ellis

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