Spratt, R. A. (author).
Illustrated by Phil Gosier.
Jan. 2016. 272p. Roaring Brook, hardcover, $13.99 (9781626722972). Grades 3-6.
REVIEW. First published December 15, 2015 (Booklist).
Friday is the youngest, most overlooked Barnes child. But being overlooked has given her the time to develop into a top-notch detective. After handily solving a particularly tricky jewel theft, she’s given a hefty reward, and she’s going to use it the best way she knows how: tuition for fancy boarding school. When she arrives, she discovers her new school is full of mysteries to be solved—all for the right price. To do so, she must avoid cute but devious Ian Wainscott and keep from getting in so much trouble she gets expelled. That, and deal with the bully who convinces their classmates to cruelly ignore Friday. Spratt has created a sharp, plucky main character, whose brainy investigations and candid, sometimes tactless observations will appeal to mystery lovers of any gender. The diminutive detective’s not so great at social conventions, which gives Spratt a great opportunity to playfully skewer stereotypical middle-school plots. Spratt’s matter-of-fact tone and punchy sentences bring Friday to life, and the age-appropriate touch of romance is a sweet addition. With off-the-wall plot turns and small mysteries scattered throughout, this is the perfect choice for mystery fans with a silly sense of humor, and the cliff-hanger ending promises more sleuthing on the horizon. Gosier’s black-and-white spot illustrations add to the charming atmosphere. A sheer delight.— Snow Wildsmith