Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline by Nancy Springer

This is the fifth book in the Enola Holmes series. I really like this series and have read them all. The premise for the series is that Sherlock Holmes has a much younger sister. When their mother runs away, Sherlock and his brother, Microft, want to put 14 year old Enola into a boarding school. Enola, however, shrinks from the idea of learning stitchery and wearing a corset. Instead she runs away and with the help of some clever disguises, sets herself up as a private investigator. As such she often ends up working on the same cases as her famous brother, but has to avoid contact with him to maintain her freedom. In this episode, her kindly land lady receives a mysterious and threatening letter, and then is abducted. Enola follows the clues to the home of the aged Florence Nightingale. With Nightingale's help, Enola uncovers a plot that reaches high into the ranks of the House of Lords. I like these books because they are intelligent. Enola is intelligent and the story is told in an intelligent way. The reader thrills at the cleverness, and feels smarter for having read the book. I also like that Spinger includes many interesting and well researched details of what life was like for a woman during the late 1800's. Often Enola succeeds where her brother fails because she understands ideas and objects related to females, that Sherlock misses. Often when you have a strong woman character, she succeeds by acting like a man. In this book Enola is strong, but remains truly feminine. These are great for 4-6 grade girls. (160 p)

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