Sunday, 10 May 2020

Bernice Takes a Plunge


Bernice Takes a Plunge by Ann Harth (Odyssey) ISBN 9781925652918 $14.95 RRP (PB)
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Bernice Peppercorn is a budding mystery writer and keen to be a real-life detective. She sees clues and crimes wherever she goes in her seaside town. Often, when her hunch turns out to be wrong, it gets her into trouble. But then there is an actual robbery of jewels from the mansion of local celebrity, Crystal Bell. Bernice befriends a mysterious man with a wooden leg down at the wharf and throws herself into solving the case.

Bernice is a character with oodles of energy, ideas and enthusiasm. Her best friend Maggie is home with chicken pox but that does not slow Bernice down. She goes from cooking cupcakes, to being annoyed by her brother Jake, to reporting crimes at the police station, to rowing boats out on the harbour, all while losing several hats. The story moves along at a cracking pace with plenty happening. And in the background Bernice finds time to write her story in Bushy Hollow.

While Bernice’s reasoning is often flawed, this leads her into some humorous situations. Like when she pretends to have a prosthetic leg to meet Ike, the one-legged fisherman. She uses a towel, some tape and a plunger and learns to walk (with a bit of falling over). When Bernice and Ike become friends, Bernice worries about how she’ll tell Ike she really has two legs. This acts as an amusing subplot as well as revealing something nice about Bernice’s character.

The later part of the story is quite exciting when Bernice and Ike get shipwrecked out on the local Thumb Tip island in the middle of a storm. Bernice must steer the boat and she and Ike climb up to a cave to safety. After this the mystery is solved quite quickly along with an unexpected revelation that Ike is actually Crystal Bell’s brother.

Bernice Takes a Plunge is an entertaining read. It has plenty of action to keep up the interest for younger middle-grade readers.

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