Reviews /

The Mystery of the Missing Mum

Authored by Frances Moloney
Illustrated by Thy Bui
Published by Pushkin Children's Books

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This book is layered just like a Princess in the Pea bed!

The story starts as a simple detective game where the central character tries to fathom out where his Mum has gone. It is a terrible shock to wake up and discover she simply isn’t there! However, as the narrative develops, there are new layers or memories added to give some of the back story for this unique family. Some memories are happy, but some reveal hints of deeper trauma.

I do not wish to give too much away. However, I do wish to convey how this story reeled me in as a reader and in the end, I deeply cared for the central character whose voice reveals an endearing son who is magnificently coping with gritty life.

Could this story be read as a class reader? Perhaps but only if teachers have read the whole book beforehand and know their own class very well. So not a read for the beginning of a school year but perhaps halfway through a year or summer term. It is a book which does not shy away from themes such as divorce, mental health, and friendships. With young readers aged 7 to 11 years who like Jacqueline Wilson, this also could follow on as a good recommendation.

I liked the lists offered at the beginning of chapters where Jake is logically working through options of what has happened to his Mum, although I felt there was an overuse of capital letters to emphasise key words in each sentence. This publishing ‘design of text’ is an interesting conversation to have with children though. Maybe children will prefer this style of text design and be able to justify it occurring so frequently.

To summarise this story in just three words: ‘moving, engrossing & hopeful’ and therefore highly recommended.