Edie Amelia and the Monkey Shoe Mystery, by Sophie Lee

There was no doubt at all that Edie Amelia Sparks was in possession of a fine talent for keeping things ordered when all around her was in chaos.
Edie and her parents lived in a house called ‘The Pride of the Green’, which wasn’t proud and wasn’t in a green at all, but in a busy street with other people’s houses on either side. It had a purple front door, a lopsided roof and creaky window shutters that looed as if they might well blow off in the next big wind.
Inside it was strewn with detritus (which is just a fancy word for mess) and looked like a rubbish tip.

It is clear from the outset that Edie Amelia is an unusual girl who lives an unusual life in an unusual family. Her father is an out-of-work inventor and her mother writes popular macrobiotic cookbooks. Both her parents are occupied with the challenges of their own lives and Edie Amelia is frustrated by their ability – or lack thereof – to maintain any sort of order or neatness in the house. She retreats to her own haven in her bedroom where everything is in its right place. Her ninth birthday is approaching and Edie Amelia checks on her outfit and is horrified to discover one of her favourite shoes is missing. She determines to solve the mystery of the missing shoe, with or without the help of Cheesy Chompster and her dog Mr Pants. There are twists and turns before the mystery is solved. Along the way Edie Amelia learns a thing or two about some of the other characters of her world. Jonathon Oxlade’s black and white illustrations in each chapter provide extra humour.

Edie Amelia and the Monkey Shoe Mystery introduces the reader to a determined young girl. Independence and following your own passion are hallmarks of this quirky family. Each is very competent, indeed gifted, but not in perhaps the most conventional ways. Edie is not particularly tolerant of Cheesy initially but during the course of the mystery, discovers that Cheesy has talents of her own and the uneasy alliance shifts to become a real friendship. There are many characters introduced in Edie Amelia and the Monkey Shoe Mystery leading to speculation that it may be the first in a series. The language is very rich, with some definitions supplied immediately, but other words offered without definition. This is a book for confident readers or those keen to extend their vocabulary. Although Edie Amelia is nine years old, she’s an old nine year-old and readers older than her will still find plenty of fun and adventure to follow. Recommended for mid-primary readers and beyond.

Edie Amelia and the Monkey Shoe Mystery, Sophie Lee ill Jonathon Oxlade
Pan, 2009

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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