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Friday Barnes: Girl Detective | Book Review

Writing stories for intelligent, imaginative children is challenging work. We are always looking for good stories written for such children and as part of this search we came across the Friday Barnes series by author R.A. Spratt. First published in 2014, the book Friday Barnes: Girl Detective introduced the readers to this intelligent, eccentric and adorable 11 year old, who finds herself setting the goal of being one of all-time great detectives.

Book Title : Friday Barnes: Girl Detective
Friday Barnes: Girl Detective
Author :
Published by : Square Fish ( 17 January 2017)
Random House Australia ( 1 July 2014)
# of Pages : 288 (Paperback) 154; 882 KB (Kindle EBook) 272 (Hardcover)
Purchase Link(s) :

The book blurb describes her as an younger version of Sherlock Holmes. We have shared multiple reviews here at Thinkerviews on works inspired by the world of Sherlock Holmes:
Sherlock – TV series:

Elementary TV Series:

The Enola Holmes book series by Nancy Springer:

Book Cover:

Let us take a look at the cover page of this book. It is important to for a book to have an attractive cover page, as it works as a gateway to the fictional world explored within.

Friday Barnes: Girl Detective | Book Cover

Friday Barnes: Girl Detective | Book Cover

As you can see, the cover page has cartoon like illustration of a girl holding a magnifying glass, wearing typical detective cloths (you can connect it with Sherlock Holmes). The people moving in background are semi transparent. In the background, green color adds to the “lightness” of the book.

Overall, a very thoughtful and “honest to the book title and tagline” cover page that is moderately appealing.

Storyline:

The unusually named Friday Barnes was a surprise child born to highly academic physicist parents, who entered the world years after their planned children were born and while both parents were whole-heartedly engrossed in the world of science. In absence of a planned name, they called her Friday – after the day on which she was born, or so they thought.

Consequently, Friday pretty much raised herself without being of much notice or interest to anyone around her. But now she is facing the scary monster. All the TV series and movies have shown her how terrible the high school experience in the Western world is supposed to be. It is hell on earth meant to destroy young people who are of nerdy disposition.

While worrying over this future, a lucky chance throws Friday in way of winning a big prize for solving the mysterious theft of a diamond. Friday uses the money to secure admission to a fancy private boarding school called the Highcrest Academy.

Friday comes to this school with dreams of remaining anonymous and blending in, only to find out that there are range of crimes for her to solve – from missing homework to a strange yeti-like creature who seems to live in the school swamp.

As Friday deals with the pranks, the envy and also makes a sweet friend or two, the semester is passing by in a blur until Friday takes on solving the mystery of the swamp. Will she succeed?

Views and Reviews:

Let me start with the fact that I enjoyed reading this sweet, little adventure with its wry humour and witty sarcasm. The girl detective in question is just misfit enough to find occupation in solving mysteries rather than engaging the normal social behaviour for children that age. She is not keen on sports, hence, devours detective fiction. She is highly intelligent and hence sees flaws in the arguments presented in forms of societal norms very easily. But at heart, she is still kind. It is hard to see how our current societal structure makes someone like that see themselves as unlikeable.

As Friday grows up in an academic household with no siblings of her age, she also starts believing that remain unseen is best for her:

It may sound very idyllic to have disinterested parents who never interfere with anything you do. But the problem is that when you devote your entire life going unnoticed by your parents, that talent seeps over into every other aspect of your life. And if no one notices you, then no-one talks to you, and if you spend your entire childhood in silence, you will not develop very good social skills.

Her only adult contact is uncle Bernie who is just eccentric enough to let her watch reality TV shows without restraint. Some of Friday’s observations about these shows are the best satirical moments in the book. But watching all these with critical eyes allows her to develop her own judgements:

Friday normally never asked anyone for advice. She didn’t ask anyone her own age because she found that children gave terrible advice. And she didn’t ask adults because she found that adults almost never knew as much as they made out they did.

The Highcrest academy is the stage for the author to show us some of the typical traits of a private school where only very rich children are accommodated. There are the spoilt brats, not so brilliant sports lovers and an occasional artistic soul. Since Friday doesn’t quite belong to the world, it is fun to watch their interactions through her eyes. Like most children with academic parents, she is not greedy. She looks at value of things through her own perspective, rather than established versions:

One diamond worth five million dollars?! That’s ridiculous! Don’t they know diamonds are just compressed carbon, and carbon is everywhere? What ridiculous flights of fancy our modern world has?

Summary:

In summary, a lovely little adventure series with small books that will be just right for a few hours reading for young adolescent readers…

ThinkerViews Rating:

Around 7.5 stars out of 10.

Quick Purchase Links:

Over To You:

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