Tiffany Parks’ debut middle grade novel will create a frisson of excitement in readers with its promise of a secret passageway to a hidden room, a mysterious stranger and a long-lost diary. Even more irresistible is Midnight in the Piazza’s setting: Rome.
When 13-year-old Beatrice’s father decides to take a professorship in Rome, Beatrice is dismayed even though she loves history. However, the Eternal City exerts its magic on even the most reluctant resident, and Beatrice is soon smitten with its charms, including the wonderful Fountain of Turtles in the square outside her window.
When Beatrice hears of the legend and mystery surrounding the fountain, she is determined to separate fact from fiction. Stumbling upon the Duchess Mattei’s diary from the 1500s only creates more complications for solving the local lore. However, not all mysteries are ancient. While looking out her window one night, Beatrice sees someone tampering with the fountain. Since she doesn’t speak Italian, she finds an ally in a bilingual local boy. However, his behavior becomes suspect, and Beatrice begins to think she made a mistake in telling him of her investigation and the discovery of the diary.
Midnight in the Piazza is a pleasurable escapade in the vein of the Nancy Drew series. Beatrice is a clever sleuth, and the Roman landmarks that appear in this book are an added bonus, allowing readers to vicariously experience and learn about some of the greatest architectural treasures in the world.