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The Case of the Missing Moonstone (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, Book 1) - Jordan Stratford, Kelly Murphy

This is a great book for young readers! It is filled with fun history, which is made even more interesting as "the world's first computer programmer and the world's first science-fiction author [solve] the world's first fictional detective mystery".

In the About the Author blurb, Stratford is described as "eager to shine a light on some of the pioneering and unappreciated women in [history, science, math, and literature], and to inspire girls to dream big, change the world, and laugh really hard." I think this really comes off in his writing. His characters are two strong individuals who are creative, clever, and great at solving problems. Stratford also shows some of the customs of the times (age of marriage, women and girls having chaperons in public), but also has his characters ultimately reject these customs or point out why they are problematic, instead of romanticizing them. Stratford balances the history with more modern views of the empowerment of women.

And clearly Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley are great females to demonstrate this empowerment. I think Stratford took full advantage of the lives of the women, including his age-appropriate summary of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and use of Mary Wollstonecraft's work in the fictitious narrative. Stratford's characters have such a powerful history and he really unitizes this to inspire young readers.

I also feel that Stratford handled Ada's character well. Ada demonstrates some autistic-like traits (sensitivity to sensory input such as smell, extreme discomfort with change, difficulty identifying other's emotions and recognizing social cues). Ada is presented as different, but not as weird or like there is something wrong with her.

Not only are the characters and setting educational, but Stratford also manages to incorporate new vocabulary within the text, similar to the way Lemony Snicket does in A Series of Unfortunate Events. There is also a Notes section in the back, which describes the historical figures in the book as well as the changes Stratford made for his fictionalized story.

I highly recommend this book. It has wonderful female characters for young readers and has a fascinating plot. I really look forward to the second book.