Being a grown-up, if you read a children’s book, then you might be judged. The other so called grownups will laugh at you. Same happened with me too. I was asked why I was trying to act like a kid and if I had lost my mind.
I even got some suggestions like ‘read nonfiction’ or ‘read something which suits your age’. And I just smiled. Yes, I smiled because it did not upset me as I remember a quote from the book. It says, ‘It’s only people we really care about who can upset us. Stones thrown by strangers have no effects, but stones thrown by friends’ sting.’
I knew there was no way they would understand how I felt when I read a novel meant for kids. The nostalgic feelings send you back to your childhood.
Anyway, without paying heed to what others said, I finished Crowns and Codebreakers, the second novel in The Marsh Road Mysteries series written by Elen Caldecott. The book, which is a heart-warming story of friendship, family ties and adventure, is a pure delight.
The book introduces you to Minnie, Andrew, Piotr, and twins Flora and Sylvie. Like most of the kids, they are too curious about everything. In spite of their differences, they are true friends. They fight and make up and have always got each other’s back no matter how critical the situation is.
They are always willing to help each other. They are ordinary children who tackle extraordinary mysteries using their brains. They deal with real life problems with real arguments and emotion.
The story begins when Minnie’s grandmother comes to stay with her family all the way from Nigeria. Minnie did not like it at first (later, she becomes a fan of her cool grandmother). She thought her privacy and freedom would be curbed and that her grandmother would create trouble for her.
At the airport, her grandmother mistakenly exchanges her own suitcase with somebody else’s. The loss of her suitcase, which carried all her belongings, including the hibiscus tea is considered as a bad omen by Minnie’s grandmother.
The exchanged suitcase had a distorted photograph of a boy and some clothes in it. Their house is burgled the very next day and the suitcase is stolen. This incident compels Minnie and company to sail towards an adventure of a lifetime to solve this mystery and you can’t help but go on the ride along with them.
A popular myth dictates that children’s stories should always teach a lesson. The stories must preach about something. But I agree to disagree. I think a good children story must not preach. Instead, it should educate about life. A good children’s book never talks down to children because they are young and naive. And this book does the same.
It explores the idea of regular children behaving in a mature manner who perform extraordinary feats. It educates one about the value of asking for forgiveness. As grandmother says, ‘Though apology business is more complicated than you think of, a sorry goes a long way.
Even great tricksters in stories know that. We need our friends more than we need our pride.’
Elen Caldecott has carefully crafted a plot with twists, turns and exciting details. The story is set in an urban environment. Minnie’s house, the shop, the market and the streets are vividly described.
The reader will feel well connected to it. It has all the elements of a good detective story as the plot does not give away too much too soon making it easy to keep turning pages.
Though the characters are not well developed, may be because the book is second in the series, it is a thoroughly enjoyable story. The book goes recommended if you want to go on a ride with five little Sherlock Holmes and enjoy a children’s story.