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Author: Hannigan, Kate
In 1859, eleven-year-old Nell goes to live with her aunt, Kate Warne, the first female detective for Pinkerton's National Detective Agency. Nell helps her aunt solve cases, including a mystery surrounding Abraham Lincoln, and the mystery of what happened to Nell's own father.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 6.20
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 174111
Kirkus Reviews (02/01/15)
School Library Journal (00/02/15)
Booklist (+) (05/01/15)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (00/07/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 02/01/2015 Gr 5–8—When 11-year-old Nell is unceremoniously left on her Aunt Kitty's doorstep, she is whisked into a new life of treacherous detective work. Though Aunt Kitty wants to send the girl to a suitable orphanage, Nell has some ingenious ways of tracking down suspects that are great assets to her aunt's detective work. While the child's quick wit helps with securing confessions and truths from suspects (in decidedly unorthodox ways), she encounters difficulty when attempting to solve the mystery of her uncle's murder—and how her father was involved. Nell is an irrepressible character: spirited, thoughtful, and intuitive. Horrifying details about American slavery, such as lynchings and kidnappings, are woven into the narrative through letters exchanged between Nell and her African American friend, Jemma. Although there are plenty of madcap adventures, grief and the longing for a home are at the forefront of the story. Although tales of children softening the hard hearts of lonely adults are a dime a dozen, the inevitably changed relationship between Nell and her aunt is remarkably free of mawkish sentiment. An extensive author's note about the real Kate Warne, America's first female detective, and the Pinkerton Detective Agency is included, along with answers to ciphers scattered throughout the book and resources for further information about the era. Letters between Nell and Jemma are written in legible penmanship that can be read by readers unfamiliar with script. VERDICT Recommend to readers who enjoy adventure, history, and stories featuring independent, strong-minded girls.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 05/01/2015 *Starred Review* After 11-year-old Nell Warne’s family drops dead, one after another, she turns in desperation to her aunt Kate. But Kate Warne isn’t in the market for a long-lost niece—she believes Nell’s father murdered her beloved husband, and besides, as the first female detective at Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency, she is too busy working undercover to care for a child. Determined Nell has other ideas, and soon Kate has no choice but to let her do the odd detecting chore to pay for her keep. And she is awfully good at the job. Hannigan keeps a strong narrative hand on the several stories she has going on simultaneously: the mysteries surrounding the deaths of Nell’s father and uncle; Nell’s correspondence with her best friend, who traveled the Underground Railroad to safety in Canada; and several Pinkerton adventures that involve chicanery, American history, and lots of excitement. An author’s note explains that Kate Warne was a real person who did many of the things described in the book, making this a great title for promoting women’s history. But even if Kate were purely fictional, Nell—strong-willed yet scared, tough but needy—makes a solid heroine. The terrific cover will drawn ’em in. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2015 Thrust unceremoniously upon her only surviving relative in mid nineteenth-century Chicago, thirteen-year old Cornelia tries hard to prove her worthiness to Aunt Kitty, who carries a grudge against the girl because Cornelia’s father shot her husband, his own brother. Still, despite the tension between them, Kitty—based on the real-life Kate Warne, the first female detective—finds the girl’s quick thinking and keen observational skills helpful in solving crimes, and soon Kitty and Cornelia, now known as Nell, form an uneasy duo. Their tentative bond solidifies when Nell proves that her father’s shooting of his brother was an accident that occurred when the men were aiding in the efforts of the Underground Railroad, a revelation aided by Nell’s correspondence with her friend, Jemma, whose family escaped to Canada thanks to Nell’s father. Nell and Jemma reveal information through codes and clues that ring true to their age and give readers something to puzzle over, while Nell and Kitty’s detective work offers excitement and intrigue without an intense sense of fear or danger—a remarkable balance that keeps this novel accessible and captivating. Sprinkled with period details (often cleverly revealed through Nell’s voracious appetite for daily newspapers), this novel provides a rich but approachable historic context for the smart, admirable Nell and the steely Aunt Kitty, both well drawn here under Hannigan’s sure hand. Her extensive author’s note offers readers information about Kate Warne and the actual cases on which the book’s adventures are based, including the plot to kill Abraham Lincoln. With skilled writing that conveys the excitement of detective work, the appeal of history, and Nell’s authentic, good-humored personal growth, this is one for the ages. AA - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.