Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Case of the Missing Moonstone

Murphy, Kelly (Illustrator)
Penguin Random House 2015. 220 pages
First published: 2015
Series: The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency
ISBN: 9780385754408 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Mystery

Text Elements:

character, figurative language, setting, structures and features

Awards

John Spray Mystery Award – Finalist – 2016
The Forest of Reading – The Silver Birch Award (Fiction) Nominee – 2016

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Set in England’s Regency era, this mystery draws on historic personalities of the time. The relationship between highly eccentric 11-year-old Ada and socially adept 14-year old Mary recalls that of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (although pre-dating them by decades).

Narration is light-hearted and witty: “It was a good floor, with broad, wooden boards and … Mary was grateful for it. The floor sat there holding up the entire library, as well as Mary herself, and it didn’t ask any questions.”

The era comes to life through three-horse omnibuses, the dank halls of Newgate prison, Ada’s own hot-air balloon and more. Rich vocabulary relates a farcical plot involving an heiress’s missing necklace, which is also a stolen artifact from Turkey. The issue of women’s rights is referenced in Mary’s famed mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and the young detectives’ difficulties: “‘A capital plan, miss. But they won’t let you in alone.’ ‘Because I’m a girl.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘You know, that’s not entirely fair.’ ‘No,’ Charles acknowledged.”

Sweet monochrome scenes and spot illustrations are scattered through the text. One shows a hansom-cab chase, whips curling decoratively against a backdrop of ship-rigging at the London docks. Another shows the detectives greeting their sisters, who have come to join the agency. “We’re going to need more crime.”

An afterword discusses the real people who inspired the story’s characters, including mathematician Lady Ada Byron and Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.

  •  

    Stories are inspired by people we meet or know, places we visit, history and our own personal experiences. Find inspiration in your life and write a journal entry.

  •  

    The author talks about the feeling of “butterflies in the stomach”. Think of a time when you felt that way. In a small group, discuss your experiences and choose one that your group will act out for the class.

  •  

    The author alludes to gender inequality. Find and discuss examples from the story that illustrate this. Create a promotional poster or PSA for a social issue stemming from gender inequality.

  •  

    Some of the characters in the book are inventors, mathematicians, authors, poets, philosophers and engineers. Discuss the common qualities of the characters and complete a graphic organizer to illustrate your thinking.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Drama
  • Geography, History and Citizenship