Friday, 11 December 2009

The Head is Dead by Tanya Landman

November 2009, Walker
112 pages, Paperback
Review Copy

Children's, 10+

Cushions: 4
Daggers: 1
Smiles: 5
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Details from Walker

Fourth in the brilliantly addictive new series of murder mysteries by an acclaimed and popular writer.
Poppy Fields and best friend Graham design a murder mystery trail for the school fayre, choosing the headteacher to be the corpse at the end. But when the first person to finish discovers that the head really is dead, Poppy and Graham set out on a real life murder trail.

This is my favourite book so far in the series (I still haven't read the previous two). Poppy and Graham are attending school during the Easter holidays - not their own school, but one where Poppy's mother is helping create a nature area. Poppy and Graham can't just be idle, so they get roped into helping the school fayre. Seeing as they've dealt with a few murders, a murder trail really is the easiest thing for them to do. Little did they know that their own lives became at stake. Who would want to murder a headteacher? Aside from rebellious students? Once again I couldn't figure out the answer, which was clever.

Poppy's natural wit is out in full force in her telling of the tale - her mother's term for an upset stomach and Poppy's term are radically different, but both had me giggling away. Here's a sample of the ever-present humour.

page 43: "Another sheep, then," said Graham. "It seems the flock is growing."
There was only one answer to that. "Baaaaaa."

I did feel sorry for Poppy and Graham, because the police didn't take their views on the investigation at all well. My heart was in my mouth when the police waved off their suggestions - Poppy and Graham do have experience in the field of murder, but their age counts against them. This particular conflict is a reoccuring one in the series: it highlights how much adults can underestimate children.

I think another fun element of this story is that Poppy's mother is involved - her parents aren't on the sidelines, they play a large part in her life. Sometimes parents in stories are very minor secondary characters, with little impact on the protagonist's life. This adds to the realism of The Head is Dead - Poppy's life may be strange, but at least her parents are a familiar constant.

Tanya Landman's details can be found on her website.

Liked this? Make sure you check out book 3, Dying to be Famous


GMR said...

Okay, first of all...the title...gotta love it. It reminds me of something my mom use to say (don't ask, but it was funny...). Second..enjoyed the review! It sounds like a great little mystery to get kids started off right and help them use their imaginations for a practical purpose...or simply a quick read for an interested book enthusiast of any age. Thanks for sharing!

Chicklish said...

This sounds great, and that's a very interesting observation about the parents. Thanks for a fascinating review!