The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley
I think we are missing the point on Flavia DeLuce. I recently read an article in the Jan./Feb. 2018 issue of Smithsonian magazine titled Girl Power. The article itself featured Madeline L'Engle and the impact A Wrinkle in Time had on giving girls the power. She is quoted as saying, "I'm a female, why would I give all the best ideas to a male?" The article highlighted in a side bar a list of heroines. Rebels with a cause. Girls who are brave and smart and rule breakers and, oh yeah, children. Among others, there is Laura Ingalls, Jo March, Ramona Quimby, Scout Finch, Cassie Logan, Experanza Cordero, Hermione Granger, Liesel Meminger, Harriet Welsch, Nancy Drew. As I read the article my brain kept screaming, “Don’t forget Flavia!” She’s smart, spunky, brave, certainly breaks the rules and twelve years old (in this book.) Not even a teenager yet.
So, why aren’t these Flavia DeLuce books marketed to children like the others? I don’t know. I’m glad adults are being treated to these books because maybe we will read about Flavia and then steer our girls to be more like her. Not afraid of but embracing science, giving them freedom to use their brains to figure things out on their own. And while Flavia finds herself in the middle of murders to solve, solve them she does with a freedom of movement that is lost on our children. I used to be able to hop on my bike and be gone all day with not a care in the world, but our children aren’t and never will again. We are convinced there is a boogey man on every corner and so have clipped our girls’ wings.
In this book Flavia and her sisters are set adrift after a family tragedy. With all good intentions, Dogger, the family servant takes the girls on a boating outing and as they travel past a church where the Vicar has been hung for the deaths by poison (Flavia’s specialty) of three parishioners, Flavia’s fingers dangling in the water bring up a body. That’s all she needs. Flavia is on to this and as in the past we are carried along with her thought process and we can only cheer her on and applaud at the end.
But like I said, I think we are missing the point on Flavia DeLuce. There is absolutely NO reason not to let your girls read about this smart, spunky, brave young girl. If we loved Nancy Drew, let your girls love Flavia. Please.