Maisie Hitchins is a 12 year old girl in the late 1800's London, who helps her grandmother run a boarding house. Her fervent desire is to be a detective like the great Gilbert Carrington--think Sherlock Holmes. Gilbert, my six year old, says "That's me!" everytime Gilbert Carrington is mentioned. Since Maisie is doing her best to emulate Carrington, he is mentioned quite often.
This is a great introduction to mysteries, straightforward enough for kids to follow, but complex enough to hold their attention. All of the kids, from my nine year old to my four year old liked this book. It has about 160 pages, but since the illustrations are sprinkled liberally throughout and the book is fairly small, those 160 pages go pretty quick.
Gran's boarding house. Who doesn't love a good cross section of a house picture? And this is such a charming house. All those rooms that get smaller the further up you go.
Maisie's chapter heading picture.
Maisie yearns to be a proper detective. She is a noticing girl, often noticing things that may or may not actually be real. Here, she is keeping her eye on this old lady who smells like aniseed just in case she used the aniseed to fool the bloodhounds in her latest murder. The old lady does not take kindly to her scrutiny. Maisie has to leave the potential murderer alone.
In a sack, on a pile of trash, Maisie finds her faithful detecting partner, Eddie. Someone had tried to drown him in the canal. Maisie decides to find out who could do such a wicked thing.
Her first case!
But before she can start on her case, she has to convince her Gran that Eddie is a useful addition to the household. Maisie decides to sneak Eddie in and convince Gran later.
Professor Tobin takes the first floor rooms.
He has all sorts of interesting specimens.
Professor Tobin also support's Maisie in her detecting by giving her a real and proper magnifying glass. In addition to the little notebook she carries with her, it makes her feel like a genuine detective. Who doesn't feel more clever with a magnifying glass in their pocket?
Before Maisie has time to convince Gran of Eddie's usefulness, Eddie steals some sausages from the delivery boy's bike. He creates a large disturbance. Gran is outraged and insists Eddie must go.
George, the delivery boy is a little annoyed at loosing the sausages.
As Maisie is in the back alley, wondering what is to be done about Eddie, Professor Tobin lowers one of his specimens down. Maisie thinks it is the one he called a wombat. Mystified, Maisie takes the specimen and puts it on the ground. Professor Tobin starts hollering about the gigantic rat Eddie just killed and how marvelously clever Gran is to have thought to get a rat dog. Rats are so very dirty and could do so much damage to Professor Tobin's specimens. Gran is a bit surprised that Eddie could kill something the same size as himself, but since it is dark and Professor Tobin swoops in to carry away the "dead rat" in a cloth, Gran is none the wiser and grudgingly says Eddie can stay.
Harrowby's butcher store. By the way, I love Maisie's large skirt and tiny legs. And her curls. Isn't she adorable?
At Harrowby's, she learns that George, the delivery boy has been fired for stealing. Since he is a school friend of Maisie's and has always been completely honest and upright, Maisie is sure there is a mix up somewhere.
A second case for Maisie!
However, George is not entirely sure he likes Maisie trying to sort out his troubles. Especially disguised as an old lady.
Through a few twists and turns and fairly straight forward detecting, Maisie get's George back his job and discovers, mostly through conjecture and a few clues, who did the stealing. It turns out to have been for a good reason, so things aren't as evil as they could be.
All's well that end's well in Gran's kitchen with a mug of hot cocoa!
Perfectly adorable book!