cover image Nooks & Crannies

Nooks & Crannies

Jessica Lawson, illus. by Natalie Andrewson. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4814-1921-5

Packed with the delicious elements—hidden passages, unexplained noises, suspicious servants—of a traditional British mystery, Lawson’s (The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher) story, set in 1907 England, will keep readers engagingly puzzled throughout its multilayered twists and tangles. Six children on the cusp of turning 12 are summoned to the country estate of Countess Camilla DeMoss, who soon reveals the competition she has planned. Among them is Tabitha Crum, whose parents plan to abandon her to an orphanage, and whose only friend is her pet mouse. Tabitha is obsessed with mystery books and dreams of working for Scotland Yard; as unnerving events unfold, she is in her element. The Dahl-esque story, humorously peopled by distinctive children and adults, poignantly captures the loneliness and longing of an unwanted child: when Tabitha finds a disguised keyhole that perfectly accepts her key, she has “the odd wish that she could be key-shaped and could find a space where she fit so perfectly.” Well thought-out and deftly executed, Lawson’s novel will appeal to a wide audience. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. Illustrator’s agent: Jen Linnan, Linnan Literary Management. (June)