Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying

Hosch, Amanda. Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying
October 1st 2017 by Capstone Young Readers
Public Library Copy

Mabel and her parents live in a very small town that caters to tourists and hikers near Mount Rainier. Her aunt runs a bakery nearby, her mother runs the family's spoon museum, and her father repairs communications wiring. BUT... her parents are also spies who do "cleanup" in far flung countries, and as a side project also try to give back a lot of historical artifacts that Mabel's mother's parents stole back in the 1960s! When her parents are on their latest mission, her aunt is accused of theft, and her uncle and his family move in to Mabel's house to "take care of" her, although Mabel suspects that her uncle (who abandoned his sisters after the death of their parents, stealing their money besides!) is trying to find items her grandparents' stole and hid in her house. While the school principal tries to help Mabel out, and her cousin Victoria is a lot nicer than her parents, Mabel still worries about her aunt in jail and her parents, who seem to be taking too long on their mission. Mabel finds something that her uncle wants, but wants to make sure that the item stays safe. She also wants to make sure that her uncle doesn't start selling off spoons from the museum! Can Mabel hold everything together until her parents make it back?
Strengths: I loved the small town setting of this one, with the cafe and museum! I thought that the principal was a fantastic characters, and the girls in Mabel's class, who could have been very nasty, were actually very sympathetic and nice. The idea that Mabel's parents are spies and the small town is their cover was really quite brilliant, and the fact that the grandparents were part of a ring of thieves... fantastic. A lot of unexpected depth in this book. Quite well done.
Weaknesses: Horrible, horrible formatting. The cover does not do the content justice, the print is tiny, and the binding is paper over board. If this had been a regular sized, dust jacketed book, the print wouldn't have had to be so tiny.
What I really think: While I enjoyed the story, this book, as published, would just gather dust on the shelves. Kat Sinclair has similar issues, and I can't get anyone to check it out. Don't publishers have focus groups of tweens for these sorts of things? Give enough free books to a school or library, and I'm sure they'd get together children who would give opinions. Frustrating.

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