STARRED REVIEW
January 19, 2016

The new sleuth in school

By R.A. Spratt, illustrated by Phil Gosier
Review by

Imagine if Sherlock Holmes were an 11-year-old girl at a ritzy boarding school. That’s the premise of Friday Barnes: Girl Detective, the first in a series by Australian writer R.A. Spratt. This children’s comedy TV writer and author of the award-winning Nanny Piggins series has crafted a likable, intriguing heroine and a lighthearted, breezy mystery.

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Imagine if Sherlock Holmes were an 11-year-old girl at a ritzy boarding school. That’s the premise of Friday Barnes: Girl Detective, the first in a series by Australian writer R.A. Spratt. This children’s comedy TV writer and author of the award-winning Nanny Piggins series has crafted a likable, intriguing heroine and a lighthearted, breezy mystery.

Friday is the unexpected fifth child of busy, brilliant parents, who name her after the day on which she was born. (Turns out she was actually born on a Thursday, a fact about which they were too distracted to notice.) Friday has been largely left to her own devices, but after helping her beloved Uncle Bernie solve a crime, she uses the reward money to enroll in the ultra-exclusive Highcrest Academy.

Mystery after mystery presents itself, and even though Friday prefers to fly under the radar, she can’t help but take on each challenge. A special clock has been stolen from the Headmaster's desk, homework assignments turn up missing, and fake history presentations are just waiting to be revealed. Barnes uses her innate Sherlockian abilities to solve these conundrums, and also gets help from her Watson―roommate Melanie Pelly, a brilliantly observant girl. There’s an even bigger mystery afoot involving a Yeti said to be haunting the nearby swamp, and before long the Headmaster comes to Friday for help.

Spratt’s characters are entertaining, although she relies too heavily on boarding-school stereotypes of both students and teachers. For instance, the geography teacher informs Friday, “My dear girls, this is a private school. You’ve entered Lord of the Flies now.” Spratt’s writing is nonetheless snappy and smart, and her clever plotting moves the action right along. Everything ends with a giant cliffhanger, which will definitely leave readers ready for more.

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Friday Barnes: Girl Detective

Friday Barnes: Girl Detective

By R.A. Spratt, illustrated by Phil Gosier
Roaring Brook
ISBN 9781626722972

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