Sleuth on Skates was given to me by my friend Cait (while we were waiting at the theatre for Matilda to begin, appropriately) as she knew that I wanted to read more middle grade books. I adored the cover – I love mystery and stuff that is cute and also what’s the deal with the ducks? – so I couldn’t wait to start a fun, surprising adventure with young Sesame Seade.
Sleuth on Skates is a smart, funny new contemporary mystery series accompanied by witty illustrations, beautifully drawn by Sarah Horne, and a brilliantly loquacious heroine. Sleuth on Skates is perfect for those who want to check out more middle grade stories as it’s packed full of little references that older readers (okay, you caught me, I’m referring to adults) will enjoy as well as children. As a Marketing Executive, I found myself revelling in the scene where Sesame’s mother explains just exactly what marketing is…
Sesame Seade is a super sleuth on skates – a stealthy detective on wheels – and she has been waiting eleven years, five months and seventeen days for a mysterious mission – and now she finally has one. Sesame – also known as Sophie, for her parents inexplicably refuse to call her by her real name – finds university students either boring or disgusting, but unfortunately one of them at Christ’s College, Cambridge University, has disappeared. Jenna Jenkins has been missing for two days and although Sesame wonders for a second as to whether Jenna just went home for the weekend and her parents decided to sell her as a slave, as soon as she discovers that she was supposed to play the lead role in Swan Lake and was editor-in-chief of UniGossip magazine, Sesame accepts that not everything is as it seems in the usually disappointingly boring and mystery-free town of Cambridge.
Sleuth on Skates is an ingeniously complex and inventive children’s novel – with excellent foreshadowing! – and with a brilliant young protagonist at the forefront. If you think it looks simple and sweet, be warned, as Sesame Seade is sure to have made child Sherlock look like an amateur. If I had to be an 11-year-old again, I’d want to be as cool, as fearless and as intelligent as Sesame. It’s not often that I find books funny, I’ll be honest, but every page of Sleuth on Skates had me smiling, from Sesame’s hilarious one-liners to the frequent appearance of a certain pregnant duck. (I’d love for one to follow me around as I courageously extract key information from exclusive sources, with two best friends, Toby and Gemma, at my side!). It also made me smile because the fact that such an example of excellent children’s literature exists makes me rather happy. Clémentine Beauvais is an exceptional storyteller who understands children just as much as she understands adults, conjuring up a perfect story that almost everyone will enjoy. I mean it – I’m sharing it with everybody!
Unfortunately, I cannot write nearly as well as the wonderful Sesame Seade speaks, so I’ll leave you with some of her best moments:
‘I try not to get too attached to [students] because, like rabbits, they only last three or four years and then they’re gone’.
‘If there are as many connections in your brain as there are stars in the universe, why ask for superpowers?’
‘Normally, I would have followed Jesus’s advice since my dad works for his dad, but…’.
I now cannot wait to pick up the second in the series, Gargoyles Gone AWOL!
Published: 2nd May 2013
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books