Brown-haired, white Lou Lou Bombay and her blue-eyed, dark-skinned Mexican-American best friend, Peacock Pearl, work to solve a series of petty crimes in their city while also participating in Latino cultural events.
The first crime of which the girls are aware is the suspicious staining of Pea’s cousin Magdalena’s quinceañera dress. Lou Lou’s prize camellia, Pinky, then falls victim to “planticide,” killed by bleach and vinegar. Lou Lou and Pea’s neighborhood, El Corazón, is full of colorful murals, and as each crime occurs, one of the murals shows something related to the crime. While getting ready to celebrate Día de los Muertos, the girls also plot ways to solve the mystery. The tone is light and the characterizations equally breezy. The third-person narrative has a strong voice, offering such quaint, explanatory sentences as, “Gardening was too dirty for her taste but she supported her best friend.” Despite the purported equality of the friendship, the text more often reveals Lou Lou’s thoughts and feelings than Pea’s. Coupled with a plethora of placed-for-optimal-understanding Spanish phrases, this gives the book a feeling—perhaps ironically—of targeting a non-Latino audience. Still, some great humor, from a nautically obsessed father to “Danielle Desserts and her snooty-girl posse,” mitigates the didacticism. The respectful relationship between the two girls offers welcome respite from tales of best-friend angst.
A bit long for fluff but fun nevertheless. (Mystery. 8-11)