I enjoyed this first Sesame Seade book very much. To begin with I was merely amused, because the style is, well, amusing, and I could see it would appeal to nine to twelves, or thereabouts. But Sleuth on Skates by Clémentine Beauvais rather grew on me, and by the end I couldn’t put it down. Almost as if I’m no older than about ten, in fact.
Its author, Clémentine Beauvais, whose name I can’t even pronounce, is young and pretty and writes in her non-native English, which she learned by reading Harry Potter as a child. Then she came over here, went to Cambridge – naturally – and after a degree or two is writing books in English. (She has already written books in French…)
To top it all, she is funny. (I’m beginning to turn an unattractive shade of green here, but no doubt it will pass at some point.)
‘But what about the book?’ I hear you asking. It’s a crime story set in Christ’s College, Cambridge. It’s where 11-year-old Sesame lives with her parents, and she has the run of the college. She almost has the run of all Cambridge. She does what children have always done in fiction; she goes all over the place detecting and seeing her friends. As well as a bad guy or two.
Something funny is going on, and it’s not the pregnant duck. There are swans too, in lakes. Ballet, Russians, intrigue and inexplicably large cheques. Sesame rollerskates everywhere, and she finds things out. She solves the mystery, which is good, but reasonably innocent, so there is no need to disapprove of an 11-year-old detective at large in Cambridge.
Sesame uses large words. Her slightly dimmer friends need them explaining, so you too find out what they mean. This is an excellent way of teaching young readers a new vocabulary without them even noticing.
The plot is fun, the setting is charming, and the writing is simply funny. We like funny.
I could even see myself looking forward to Sesame’s next outrageous mystery. OK, OK, I am.