Let me just say, if you have girls, go get this book!
When I first heard the premise for The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, I was intrigued. Jordan Stratford has taken two historical figures (plus a few others), squashed their timeline and given them a fictional detective agency.
And he picked some extraordinary women (or girls, as they are in the book) for his main characters. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of Frankenstein and wife of poet Percy Bysshe Shelly, invented the genre of science fiction. Ada Byron Lovelace, mathematician and daughter of the poet Lord Byron, is considered the world’s first computer programmer. Even though computers weren’t invented until a hundred years after her death, she wrote the first algorithm for a machine to carry out (Charles Babbage’s Analytical Machine–a mechanical computer he theorized).
These women obviously had strong personalities in real life, and their fictionalised personas have personality in spades in The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Moonstone. Mary is sweet, determined and observant. Ada is brilliant, reclusive and petulant. Once they become friends, the two girls make an unstoppable team.
There are a few anachronistic elements to the story (a school project? Really?), but overall, it is evident that Stratford has done his research. He even includes a short historical biography for each character that made me want to learn even more about them.
The story provides a rollicking good time as the girls become friends, navigate the limited spheres of influence available to girls in Victorian England, and attempt to solve a mysterious theft. Stratford’s writing is engaging, and his characters are compelling.
Girls will identify by Mary and Ada and be inspired to pursue their own dreams.
I’m happy to say future books in this series are in the works (book 2, The Case of the Girl in Grey, should be out January 2016). My daughter is impatiently awaiting its release.
What is your favorite historical fiction for kids?