Our new feature series (Kick-butt Kidlit Spotlight On:) is kicking off this month with a focus on MYSTERY NOVELS! Specifically middle grade mystery because MG is our jam!
Let’s give a big Kick-butt welcome to our guest author for today, Jill Diamond!
“Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!”
This call to mystery action was spoken by one of the most famous literary characters of all time, Sherlock Holmes, to his crime-solving partner Dr. John Watson in Sir Arthur Conan Doyles’ The Abbey Grange. While Sherlock Holmes is unquestionably a master detective in his own right, it’s the team of Holmes and Watson that ultimately gets the mystery-solving job done. And it’s the dynamic friendship between the two characters that really keeps readers hooked. Holmes and Watson have a number of things in common – they are both intelligent, interested in sleuthing, and, depending on the specific depiction, fond of wearing hats. However, it’s the two best friends’ differences that add richness and depth to their adventures and their relationship. Alone, they are well-crafted characters but as a duo, they are mystery detective magic.
Mystery-solving friend duos or teams like Holmes and Watson are common in literature generally, but definitely have a special place in middle grade novels. Not only is the mystery genre particularly beloved in middle grade, the exploration of friendships is a common middle grade theme. Middle grade novels often address how friendships form, what makes them work well and endure or fall apart, and the benefits and challenges of friendship. And, what better way to examine friendship than against the backdrop of an exciting story that requires teamwork to resolve.
In my middle grade novels, LOU LOU AND PEA AND THE MURAL MYSTERY and LOU LOU AND PEA AND THE BICENTENNIAL BONANZA, the main characters, Lou Lou Bombay and Peacock Pearl are two best friends with much in common but, like Holmes and Watson, very different personalities and strengths. I thought it would be fun to interview them and have them tell you a bit about themselves, what makes their friendship special, and how they use it to solve mysteries in their neighborhood of El Corazón!
INTERVIEW WITH LOU LOU AND PEA
Q: How did you become friends?
Peacock Pearl: We were in the first grade and had a chart-making assignment. My chart showed my cleaning chores and Lou Lou’s showed the days that she watered her cactus. When a boy in our class, Kyle Longfellow spilled his chocolate milk on my chart, Lou Lou helped me make a new one, and we’ve been best friends ever since!
Q: What is the best thing about your friendship?
Lou Lou Bombay: We like a lot of the same things, which is really fun! We both love tea and scones and we’ve made them a part of our Friday friend tradition. We like going to see performances at the Heliotrope, the theater in our neighborhood. And we’re both really into solving problems and mysteries!
PP: We’re really different, too. I like art and fashion and Lou Lou is an excellent horticulturist. I speak Spanish and Lou Lou doesn’t. My favorite color is blue and Lou Lou likes red. Our differences keep things interesting!
Q: What is the most challenging thing about your friendship?
PP: Our differences are great – I wouldn’t change them – but they can make things challenging sometimes. Messes drive me crazy. I’m neat and clean and Lou Lou is not so neat and—
LL: Messy! You can say it. I’m messy!
PP: Lou Lou also interrupts me sometimes and I’m—
LL: You’re very polite and never interrupt. Oops! Sorry, I did it again! Pea likes to think things through and I like to charge into the action. I get bored with too much thinking.
Q: How does teamwork help you solve mysteries and problems?
LL: We both have different things we’re good at. For example, Pea’s love of art helped us with the mural mystery and my passion for horticulture came in useful with our city’s bicentennial bonanza celebration. When we combine our awesomeness, we’re unstoppable. (Mostly, at least. We did both get grounded recently for borrowing a diary while trying to solve a mystery).
PP: Yes, that was some unfortunate sleuthing-related business. We had good intentions but went about things a bit wrong, I suppose. But, like Lou Lou said, we have different talents, but we also have different ways of approaching things. I am cautious and logical, but Lou Lou is…spontaneous. Sometimes, you need to think things through when you’re solving a mystery and sometimes—
LL: You just have to have guts and go for it!
Q: What are some other examples of great mystery-solving teams
PP: The team of kids in THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY is one of my favorites. They’re like Pea and me because they use their differences to their advantage!
LL: I love the duo of Howard Wallace and Ivy Mason in the HOWARD WALLACE books. I like to think I’m a little like Ivy because she’s smart, kinda sassy, and gets the job done when it comes to mysteries!
Thank you for sharing, Lou Lou and Pea! It’s clear that, when it comes to mystery solving, teams are the bee’s knees. And, with so many wonderful and fun duos, trios, and groups looking for clues together in the pages of books, the reading possibilities are endless!
Jill Diamond has loved children’s literature for as long as she can remember, thanks to her school librarian mother and long, cold winters in Maine. She presently lives in San Francisco, where, when she’s not writing, she hangs out with her husband and their son.
Jill is the author of the Lou Lou and Pea series. The second book in the series, Lou Lou and Pea and the Bicentennial Bonanza is available now!
Add LOU LOU AND PEA AND THE BICENTENNIAL BONANZA to Goodreads!
Click here to win a copy of LOU LOU AND PEA AND THE BICENTENNIAL BONANZA!
The final giveaway will be for EVERY SINGLE book featured in the Kick-butt Kidlit Spotlight On: MYSTERY blog series so make sure you check it out on every post! (New options to enter will be added with each post.) Draw closes on Friday, October 5th at the end of our series.
Tune in next Wednesday for a guest post from Henry Lien!
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