Midnight in the Piazza
Thirteen-year-old Beatrice Archer isn't too excited when her professor father is offered a job far away from Boston. When she finds out they're moving to Rome, she's upset that she'll leave her friends behind. Once there though she's swept up in what looks like an robbery of some priceless sculptures on a fountain. She witnesses the crime outside her window. What happens next has her searching for the truth, even when others, including her father, don't believe her.
What worked: This is a fun adventure, mystery set in Rome. Beatrice's reluctance to leave Boston and her friends felt very real to me as I know how hard it is for this age group to be separated from the only home they know. Little by little though, Beatrice's heart warms up to the city. Readers see the art, city, and people through her eyes. She meets Marco, someone who age who lives in the city. Together they search for hints that might resolve the mystery of the sculptures.
Parks does a great job showing the old Jewish Ghetto in Rome and the history behind one ancient family. There's mystery, ancient art, adventure, and an ancient curse. Great pacing and Italian history woven throughout. Parks does have direct translations of Italian footnoted on the bottom of the pages. This makes it easy for readers, who don't know Italian, to find the quick translations without losing their place.
Fun romp through Rome with an endearing heroine who searches for the truth behind missing sculptures and in the process learns to love the city too.