About Me

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A 40-ish publisher (editor, project manager, etc.), husband, and father of an even number of offspring, I grew up, or failed to, reading fantasy and sci-fi. I still enjoy reading, and now am trying to write. My favorite books include YA fantasy, manga, biography, and advice to authors. I'm also a former history major/grad student/high school teacher and assessment writer. Now I work for a school supplement publisher, specializing in high-low chapter books. I spend a lot of my time controlling reading levels. At night, I cut loose and use long words. W00t!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Case of the Left-handed Lady / An Enola Holmes Mystery, by Nancy Springer

I always prejudge a book by its cover. This gets me into trouble some of the time, and keeps me out of quite wonderful reads much of the rest of the time, but it is hard not to do.

One of my hats at work says "art director" on it. I have a sympathy with, well, myself, for the above failing.

This said, and while I very much liked the particular cover (I know of three) of The Case of the Left-Handed Lady that I borrowed from the library, I actually picked it up because of the author and the subject matter. How crazy is that?

Nancy Springer is a fine writer of middle grades fiction. She has written a number of stories about horses, one of which I reviewed recently, and which was part of the reason I picked up this one. The Enola Holmes mysteries suppose a teenage sister of the adult Sherlock, who experiences sleuthing in Victorian England, as they said of Ginger Rogers, "backwards and in high heels."

Springer has done a great job in this second (perhaps third) novel in the series of defining a character on the go, and describing her universe in digestible, almost unnoticeable chunks. I intend to copy her to the letter in my work, one day. We meet Enola in mid-dissembling, and chase her through her adventures doubly fraught with the dangers of discovery and societal disapproval as well as murder and the damn smog.

It's a nice piece for someone who can follow the deceptions (they're not hard), and comprehend the differences between Victorian England and the reader's own society. Springer deftly assigns the lead character to the task of tut-tutting those elements of modern American self-image that had roots in the novel's time, but had not come to pass.

I can't guess a word count, but this would be a nice step up for a fourth to sixth grader who's not yet feeling confident, or reading quickly, enough for middle teen novels of 80k words.

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