I love mysteries for kids. Scooby-Doo, of course, is the most popular form of youth fiction in this genre. But the Mystery Inc. crew solves those mysteries, not the children watching or reading. There is a host of other mystery series for kids, however, in which they are actually responsible for solving mysteries, including my favorite of the subgenres: art theft. We first bought my daughter an art theft book from a local museum about three years ago. Turns out she was too young, or the mystery a little complex, but we had a great time looking at the pictures. I was personally intrigued by the way the book was structured, with narrative cohesiveness, a logical build up in drama and the offering of slowly more obvious clues. The book we had was very tactile, too, with lots of movable parts, a magnifying glass and other nifty features.
Now that my daughter is old enough, and her problem-solving skills are blossoming, I find the art theft mystery genre worth revisiting. Perfect little book on that list: The Kidnapping of Mona Lisa. Created by Swedish authors Maayken Koolen and Nickie Theunissen, it centers on five thieves – a duck, a fox, a pig, a raccoon and a disco giraffe. The quintet has lifted DaVinci’s masterpiece and is running amok throughout Europe. Who will catch them?
Children are tasked with searching large illustrations of each city, including Rome, London, Berlin, Barcelona and Amsterdam, to find clues. There is also a bookmark with further clues and other characters who get involved in the chase. Geared toward children 5 years and older, The Kidnapping of Mona Lisa is exactly what a mystery for children should be: dramatic and suspenseful, educational and, ultimately, solvable.
And as with the best kid’s stuff, parents, too, can benefit from reading along. Problem solving in this regard isn’t exactly easy, and imagine the joy of teaching your kid about the coolest things in the world (literally): art and, well, the world.
The Kidnapping of Mona Lisa is available through Bas Bleu.