Review Detail

Bringing history to life
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Paloma Marquez has to spend the summer in Mexico City with her mother, who has gotten a fellowship to study there. Paloma would rather be back home with her friends in Kansas, but she is somewhat interested to be living just a few streets away from the home of her deceased father's favorite artist, Frida Kahlo. She misses her father, and is sad she has so few memories of him, so finds the exhibits about Kahlo interesting. She meets several children her own age right away, at a party at the Kahlo house. Tavo is the son of the couple who have funded her mother's summer, and twins Gael and Lizzie are supposed to help tutor her in Spanish. The twins have another motive, however-- they want Paloma's help in finding a peacock ring that was lost after a sealed, secret room in the house was opened. Paloma is a big fan of the Lulu Pennywhistle mysteries, so knows all of the ins and outs of investigating. Sure, the three get in trouble for sneaking out at night, but this doesn't stop them from uncovering a fairly dastardly plot. The twins' father has been jailed as a suspect in the disappearance of the ring, but Tavo's father may know more about it than he lets on. Will Paloma be able to figure out what happened... and survive her summer?
Good Points
First, the cover is fantastic! I'm not sure how many students know about Kahlo, but the Mexico City setting is great fun. The mystery of the ring would normally not be exciting to my readers, who want murder and gore, but there is enough of a conspiracy that I can talk them into this one. I liked the notes from the author about the real events of Kahlo's life, and why she chose to write this book. Just the ordinary details of traveling to another country, having to learn a new language, etc. are great. Another very solid title from this author. (Allie, First and Last, Gaby, Lost and Found.)

Paloma is an engaging character with whom readers will identify. She loves her mother but is somewhat disappointed by the amount of time she is able to spend with her, but also irritated a bit by her. The different children who come into Paloma's sphere are interesting because they aren't necessarily the type of people they claim to be, which is an unusual thing to see in a middle grade novel.

Runholdt's Kari and Lucas Mysteries, Beil's The Read Blazer Girls and the work of Blue Balliet would all be good companions to Me. Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring.

This had the additional complication of Paloma's father being dead. I wish that she had just been away from his for the summer, and that there were more information about Kahlo's artwork instead of information about her grieving. There are not many art mysteries that deal with artists not from the US, so this was a delightful trip to Mexico.

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