Stratford, Jordan. The Case of the Missing Moonstone. (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency #1)
January 6th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Lady Ada Byron's father is dead, and her mother has removed herself to the country, leaving Ada to run wild with very little supervision in her London home other than the staff, and the occasional visit from Mr. Babbage. When her nanny leaves to get married "Percy B. Snagsby" (aka Peebs) shows up to give her instruction, along with Mary Godwin, whose mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, died when she was young. Mary also makes the acquaintance of a well-read boy, Charles, on her daily carriage rides to Ada's home. The two girls are not too enthralled with Peebs' tutelage, since he is found of poetry and Ada is much more interested in science, as well as anything that will make a mess of her dress! The two girls eventually decide to create a detective agency and advertise in the newspaper to get a case. They eventually are contacted by Rebecca Verdigris, whose maid, Rosie, is in Newgate Prison after confessing to taking an acorn shaped amulet. Ada and Mary use their sparse detecting skills to try to figure out who, in fact, really stole the item. Having figured out that case, the two girls will return in book two, The Girl in Gray, due out August 2015 from Alfred A. Knopf.
Strengths: It was great to see Ada Byron and Mary Godwin used as characters, and the supporting characters (who are revealed later in the notes-- I don't want to spoil the surprise) are a fun touch. The mystery is okay, and using mesmerism in the plot is a good historical touch. Wanted desperately to like this.
Weaknesses: Ada was completely obnoxious, and Mary was too namby-pamby. I couldn't for one second believe they would actually get a client for their agency, that they were as unsupervised as they were, or that a guard would let them in...and out... of Newgate prison just because Ada bullied him. Took me three days to power through this one.
What I really thought: If I can't get students to read the excellent Enola Holmes or LaFevers Theodosia series, this one will sit on the shelf as well.