This absolutely charming picture book series debut follows young Beatrice Bly as she applies herself to the business of being an investigative spy. Armed with her notebook and, more importantly, her keen powers of observation, she’s solved many a household mystery, tho no one save her best friend knows her true vocation.
When the class hamster Edgar goes missing one day, all the other students are shocked and saddened. Beatrice, however, sees this as the perfect opportunity to use her skills for the greater good. While everyone else goes on the usual if ineffective hunt for the missing pet, Beatrice follows the clues… but how far will she go, and what will she discover at the end?
A large part of the charm of this terrific tale comes from Beth Mills’ delightful illustrations. Entire wordless pages describe several of Beatrice’s pre-Edgar exploits with an expressiveness that packs so much information into a form easily digestible by kids and admired by more advanced readers. It felt less like reading a book than enjoying an animated series: that’s how wonderfully her illustrations flow. Sue Fliess’ writing partners perfectly with the art, telling this sweet, funny story without overloading young readers, while still presenting a smart, empowering tale that had even a veteran mystery reader like myself both enthralled and impressed. It’s hard to believe how much story the authors manage to pack into a mere 32 pages!
Which, hilariously/annoyingly, was one of the first questions my eldest asked me when I told him we were doing buddy reads yesterday evening. “Is it less than fifty pages?” he wanted to know before he’d consent to join me. As I’ve told my husband, the greatest regret of my life is the fact that my kid isn’t the voracious reader I was at his age and still am today. That said, Jms really got into the book and rated it highly, particularly admiring Beatrice’s intelligence in tracking down Edgar. My personal favorite part — that he didn’t really understand because he’s always had short hair — was how Beatrice ties her hair back when she’s about to get some serious spying on. Ah, well, there’re lots of things he’ll understand better when he’s older.
Highly recommended for the independent reader in your household, and well worth a look in from adults who enjoy mysteries and want to share that love with the kids in their lives.
Beatrice Bly’s Rules For Spies: The Missing Hamster by Sue Fliess & Beth Mills was published April 6th 2021 by Pixel+Ink and is available from all good booksellers, including