When a pair of diamond earrings disappears from Lee’s General Store, the Ba twins mine for clues in this second title in the Lark Ba Detective series.
Lark, 10 minutes older than her twin brother, Connor, loves to read books and solve mysteries. Her mixed-race identity (Korean and Kenyan) has no effect on her sleuthing skills, nor does her dyslexia. Deen’s heroine reflects an underrepresented reader group and is as successful as any other lead character in early chapter books. While the action starts out slowly in first person, the tension rises in Chapter 4 with the actual disappearance of the diamond earrings. Diamond theft is a serious crime, but Lark and Connor are organized, perceptive, and thorough, undeterred by adults who dismiss them. Lark solves the mystery in Chapter 9, which is followed by three additional chapters providing entertaining yet innocuous details. Endnotes explore some of the word and jargon challenges Lark encounters. As in the first book of the series (Lark Holds the Key, 2016), Lark’s nemesis, Sophie, calls her “baa, baa Lark Sheep.” Lark optimistically reflects, “I knew Sophie was joking. She and I are best friends—she just doesn’t know it yet.” While it’s important to acknowledge the slights that many minorities face, Lark’s wish that Sophie be her friend realistically remains without resolution.
Lark’s sparkly presence on the chapter-book shelves will be welcomed by many. (Mystery. 6-9)