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“Sergeant, there’s no use pretending I’m an ordinary twelve-year-old," said Friday. "I’ve already solved several significant cases for your department. You could obstruct my investigation, but if this was all a misunderstanding, the sooner I reveal what’s really going on, the less embarrassing it will be for you" Friday. —Big Trouble
Friday Barnes Mystery #3
by R.A. Spratt
AR Test, Strong Female Character
Friday has found a home at her exclusive boarding school, but she’s unprepared for her father being a guest professor. However, her father isn’t the only new arrival. A Norwegian princess has just arrived, just when a thief called the Pimpernel is causing chaos across campus. Can Friday avoid her father, rein in a royal brat, and discover who the Pimpernel is?
The third installment of the Friday Barnes Mystery Series will entertain readers with its page-turning mystery and the reappearance of some lovable characters. Although Melanie’s best friend and possible love interest Ian reappears, new and interesting characters are added. Many of the characters are portrayed in an exaggerated, stereotypical way, which adds to the story’s humor. For example, when Friday catches a girl eavesdropping, the girl replies, “. . .we’re preteen girls. We’re supposed to have a cavalier disregard for the sensitivities of our peers.”
Melanie’s brother, Binky, makes an appearance and wants to know how to attract a girl. His interactions with Friday are heartfelt. Middle school readers will relate to his dilemma. Binky adds a welcome dose of romance to the story.
Like the previous books, Friday focuses on several smaller mysteries that end up all coming together for a big reveal at the end. Even though the story’s ending is mostly predictable, readers will still enjoy discovering how Friday used her power of observation to solve the mysteries. Friday doesn’t shy away from using large vocabulary words or feel like she needs to hide the fact that she is smart.
Black and white illustrations appear every 4 to 8 pages. The illustrations help bring the quirky characters to life and show some of the story’s action. Although the Friday Barns Series does not need illustrations to get readers to turn the pages, they add a nice touch and are often humorous.
Although Big Trouble can be read as a stand-alone book, readers will enjoy the story more if the previous books in the series have been read. Big Trouble will keep readers entertained with new mysteries and new characters. Friday’s curious personality and search for the truth will captivate readers and keep them turning the pages.
- When Friday says she doesn’t think Ian is a thief, Melanie asks, “Because you love him even more than you love Marie Curie?”
- A magazine prints a picture with the heading, “Secret Smooching at Swanky School’ and a grainy black-and-white photograph of Princess Ingrid kissing a boy. Melanie is upset that the boy was Ian and yells, “How dare he kiss another girl just because she’s beautiful, rich, and royal.”
- While looking at the picture of the princess and Ian kissing, Friday notices his messed up hair. “Maybe Ingrid ran her hand through his hair,” said Friday. “That is something kissing people are known to do.”
- When Ian tries to explain that he wasn’t kissing the princess, Friday doesn’t believe his story. Ian replies, “What interest would I have in being chivalrous? It would be more to my advantage if everyone thought I was the type of guy who made out with European royalty on a polo field.”
- One of the boys decides to wear clothes to show off his muscles. He hopes to attract a girl by being “eye candy.”
- Friday’s uncle, “accidentally hit the lady who sang the national anthem.” He says the lady, “burst onto the ice with a bunch of spectators to try to punch our goalkeeper . . . He’d just let in a home goal, so they were feeling emotional. Fists started flying, and my fist just happened to connect with her nose.”
- A dog “launched himself at Uncle Bernie’s bottom.” He is not seriously hurt by the resulting bite.
- One of the characters talked about how during a race someone tried to stop people from winning by putting down banana peels. It didn’t work, and “the winner punched Rajiv in the nose and kept running.”
- During the race, a boy “whipped off his size 14 shoe and threw it at Patel. It hit him neatly on the ankle, causing him to trip and slam into a vending machine.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Friday’s father calls someone a buffoon.
- Melanie calls Ian a rat.
- Friday says that a thief is “an idiot with a get-rich-quick scheme.”