School’s back after the summer holidays here in Australia, and my reviewing partner Emily is busy with homework once more. However, she’s always interested in any books I happen to be sent, so when I received another from the excellent Pushkin Children’s Books range, she was happy to sit down and give it a go. Getting her to review the book is another matter entirely, but I did eventually manage to corner her for a few minutes and get her thoughts – and here they are 🙂
What’s the name of the book, and who is it by?
The book is called Detective Nosegoode and the Music Box Mystery, and it’s by Marian Orłoń (and it’s translated by Eliza Marciniak).
What’s it about?
Detective Nosegoode is a retired detective who lives with his pet dog (who can talk!). One day the family heirloom of the local chemist is stolen, but they soon find out that it is no ordinary burglary. There’s only one person (and dog) who can solve the mystery – Detective Nosegoode to the rescue!
Did you like it? Why (not)?
Yes, it was funny!
What was your favourite part?
When the dog goes to this strange person’s house, and he is convinced that the person is trying to poison him, but really the bottle with the skull and crossbones on it isn’t what he thinks it is!
Would you recommend this book to other boys and girls? Why (not)?
Yes, because it is funnier than it looks 🙂
Emily, thank you very much.
With a Polish connection in our family, I thought it would be nice for Emily to try something from the country, and she seemed to enjoy meeting the good detective and his canine companion. For those of you with a little knowledge of the Polish language (and who might be worried about how easy the book is to read), Marciniak has chosen to Anglicise the text, with Nosegood accompanied by his dog Cody to the town of Lower Limewood where he encounters characters such as Mr. Swallowtail, Ignatius Blossom and the enigmatic stranger Blackbeard. I’m not always a fan of this strategy, but it’s probably a good idea for a kids’ book (the original title for this, by the way, was Ostatnia przygoda detektywa Noska…).
Orłoń wastes no time getting into the story. With just a couple of pages to orient ourselves, we’re dragged straight out into the streets of Lower Limewood, where our pensioner sleuth is alerted to Blackbeard’s suspicious character by his loquacious side-kick:
“I’m liking this less and less,” said Cody. And anyway, my left ear has been itchy for the past three days, which is a sure sign that something unusual is going to happen. I’m convinced that there’s a connection between this itch and that bearded man. Listen, maybe he’s a criminal, someone you had sent to prison? Maybe he got out and now he’s looking for revenge?”
p.12 (Pushkin Children’s Books, 2017)
The good detective is less sure of the stranger’s guilt, but subsequent events show that something unusual is happening in the small town – maybe Blackbeard is up to no good after all…
Detective Nosegood and the Music Box Mystery is another attractive-looking book from the Pushkin Children’s range, with a striking cover and occasional ink drawings by the original illustrator Jerzy Flisak. Another point to note is that Pushkin have (once again) managed to bring a notable translator on board in the form of Marciniak, whose work on Wioletta Greg’s Swallowing Mercury was rewarded by being longlisted for both last year’s Man Booker International Prize and the TA First Translation Prize, as well as making the shortlist for the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. No apologies here for labouring the point – having good translators on board can only make for good books, whether they’re aimed at adults or younger readers.
While Emily enjoyed this, it’s probably a little below her level now (she polished it off in about twenty-five minutes while I was on the exercise bike a couple of weeks back), so kids over ten might find it a little simple (of course, that depends on the reader). Still, she’s keen to give the other books in the series a go, and as her Polish roots don’t extend to actually speaking the language, we’ll be relying on the Pushkin versions again. I wonder what the good detective and his talking dog will discover next time? We’ll be sure to let you all know when we find out 🙂