The Serendipity Mystery is a children’s detective story based on a kitten detective agency. The kittens live with their human mum. In this edition, the kittens have travelled on holiday Sri Lanka. Whilst on holiday a sword is stolen from a local museum. The kitten detectives along with their friend Terrance the dog try to solve the clues. Along the way, they meet some new friends, Menna the baby elephant and Rani the turtle.
The book starts with a beautifully illustrated family tree and then a catch up on the detective agency members. For this reason, it is easy to read as a stand-alone or as part of the series. It was whilst studying the agency information I noticed my first problem with the book. The language was too complex for the age range the book is written for (6-8 year-olds)
“Fromage my diminutive and energetic Tabby brother.”
Most children would not be able to read diminutive let alone understand the meaning of the word. As an English teacher, I believe we should try to develop children’s language. Diminutive is used at a free reading level, not at the level for a 6-8 year-old.
As I proceeded into the story the language was a little better and set at a more reasonable level. Although, this didn’t carry throughout the book. There were many examples of complex language being used throughout.
There is also an issue with the way the kittens talk to each other. Again, they are meant to be young cats, yet they speak to each other and use sentences as if they are retired.
“This is the life, Inca” Fromage says.
Not a sentence I have heard many young people say in my years in the classroom. There are also words such as ‘exasperated eye’ and ‘scrumptious’ used.
The terminology used is also too complex for the age range this book is suitable for. UNESCO World Heritage site does the author need to include the acronym. There are moments in the book where you get the impression the author is trying to show off their own intelligence.
I was also concerned that some of the language was offensive to other cultures. For example, describing someone’s skin colour as “deep soot black.”
Having said this there are parts in the book that are very interesting to children and could teach them. Details of a turtle’s life, explanations of the different countries cultures would be beneficial to all.
Overall the story was OK although I have to admit to knowing who stole the sword a quarter of the way through. This may be because I am an adult and addicted to crime novels but, it did appear very obvious to me.
If there is one part of this book that keeps you turning the pages it’s the beautiful illustrations. Jorge Valle is an artist of the highest quality. The illustrations are well drawn, age-appropriate and pull the story together.
The story was ok but there were too many language problems for me to enjoy it. It isn’t a book I would read to my child. Others may differ in their opinion. For me, if it hadn’t been for the beautiful illustrations I would have struggled to finish it.