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Libby and the Parisian Puzzle by Jo Clarke

Mystery-lover Libby is excited but nervous when she's sent to live with her aunt while her mother is working abroad. Aunt Agatha is the headmistress of an extraordinary travelling school that moves from country to country. Libby joins it in Paris, where she is just starting to find her feet when her aunt is arrested, accused of a daring jewel robbery. Can Libby and her new best friend Connie find the real thief and save her aunt?

Libby and the Parisian puzzle is the debut middle grade novel by Jo Clarke. It is about a girl called Libby who goes to stay with her aunt who runs a school. This is a very unusual school however as it is a travelling school which moves to a new place each term. It is in Paris in the term that Libby goes to join it.

Libby's life up until this point has been unusual as her mum is a photographer and Libby usually travels around the world with her, so she has never actually been to a school before going to her aunts. Her mum is heading to Ecuador and on this occasion is unable to take Libby with her.

Whilst at the school Libby meets her new room mate Connie, who is from Scotland and also meets Miss Browne a new teacher at the school. She immediately takes to these two people and forms a friendship with them. As the story proceeds she meets various other characters who take part in the adventures that unfold.

Libby is a naturally curious character and is inspired by her favourite books about a detective and so she tends to look for mystery and intrigue wherever she goes. At first others don't take this particularly seriously and see Libby's theories as a product of her wild imagination but when a real life crime mystery lands right on their doorstep and effects their everyday lives, the other people Libby knows start to take her more seriously.

I won't go into the mystery any more than that as I wouldn't want to ruin any surprises but suffice to say that I found this book charming and enjoyable. It gave me a nostalgic feeling of reading mystery adventures as a child. It has all the classic ingredients of children finding themselves drawn into a mystery and solving it themselves because the adults are unable to see what is going on. There is no magic in this story but their is a touch of the magic that made Harry Potter so enjoyable-children solving a mystery in a strange place.

Libby is a really likeable character as is her friend Connie and they make a good team in this story. I was drawn in immediately into Libby's world as the pacing is very good and keeps you wanting to read on. It also has that element loved by mystery fans-clues to what is going on. As I was reading I noticed things that made me question and wonder what was happening. It was a very satisfying mystery in that, there were enough clues for me to be able to piece some of the mystery together but there were still plenty of surprises.

One of the things I found exciting about this story is the potential in it for further adventures. There was the hint at potential adventures in the future with the question of why her mum hadn't taken her on her trip to Ecuador and why she hadn't been heard from for a while, plus their is the endless potential of the travelling school: where could it go next? What sort of trouble could Libby and her friends find themselves in elsewhere?

I can imagine that a lot of children will enjoy this story, it is a thrilling adventure and has a classic feel to it. I for one cannot wait to see what the children in my class think of it. The book would be perfect for readers from aged 8 and above. I hope that this is just the beginning of the adventure because I also can't wait to see what comes next for Libby.

Libby and the Parisian Puzzle is published on 3rd March 2022 by Firefly Press. You can pre-order it here using these links:

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