Monday, March 8, 2010

Elvis and Olive: Super Detectives by Stephanie Watson

Elvis and Olive: Super Detectives by Stephanie Watson (Rated: C)
Scholastic Press
ISBN: 978-0-545-15148-1
Publication date: July 2010
Hardcover, 288 pages
Ages: 9-12

This heartwarming story of friendship between two very different girls was a great book to read together with my almost 9 year-old daughter. She absolutely loved it. This is the second book author Stephanie Watson writes about 9 year-old Annie Beckett and 10 year-old Nathalie Wallis, best friends who use the code names Elvis and Olive. Funny, a little mysterious and sometimes sad, it’s sure to please middle grade girls.

Annie is spontaneous, creative and in foster care since her mother left her, whereas Nathalie is shy, lacks self-confidence, and goes to a private academy. When Nathalie decides to run for Student Council Secretary and she needs to do a Helping Hands project, she and Annie decide to open the E & O Detective Agency to solve mysteries in their neighbourhood. We follow the girls’ adventures as they try to solve simple and difficult cases, and we are introduced to a colourful cast of neighbours whom they help out. The most pressing cases are their own, though, as Annie desperately wants to find her mother, and Nathalie wants to find a way to win the Student Council elections.

My only disappointment was that Nathalie’s parents were not prominent enough. They make but a brief appearance toward the end of the book. In a story where other adult characters play an important role, such as Mr. and Mrs. Warsaw, and Ms. Hatch, Annie’s foster grandmother, the absent relationship of Nathalie and her parents was too evident. Especially since Annie is dealing with parental abandonment. I found this ironic.

Wouldn’t a ten year old want to discuss the distressing situation of her best friend with her own mother? And running for Student Council Secretary was such a big deal for Nathalie, yet there’s no parental involvement whatsoever? Instead, she talks to a chip on her bed board. Granted, kids have imaginary friends, but my motherly instincts still felt Nathalie’s situation was too unrealistic. Her parents cared and loved her, therefore they should have been more involved in the story as the other adults were.

Apart from this, the book was an enjoyable read for both my daughter and I. True friendship, believing in yourself, and showing kindness are some of the themes that run through this story, making this a thought-provoking novel as well. From the way it ended, I see the possibility of a third book in the picture, which would make a delightful series for middle graders.

Disclosure: Thank you to Nikole from Scholastic Canada for sending us this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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  1. The book sounds great and the cover is just adorable!

  2. Re: lack of parental involvement, this reminded me of the old Peanuts gang where all the adults "talked" in monotone incomprehensible utterances.


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