Midnight in the Piazza
Beatrice Archer may love history, and Rome may be chock-full of it, but that doesn’t mean she wants to move there!
Too bad Beatrice’s father got a job as the head of the history department at the American Academy in Rome—now, Beatrice has no choice but to get used to the idea.
When she arrives in Rome she explores her new city as much as she can, but it isn’t until she hears talk of a strange neighborhood legend that Beatrice perks up. A centuries-old unsolved mystery about the beautiful turtle fountain outside her window? Sounds like fun!
Before Beatrice has a chance to explore, though, she sees a dark figure emerge from the shadows of the square in the middle of the night—and steal the famous turtle sculptures that give the fountain its name.
When no one believes her story, Beatrice knows that it’s up to her to solve the crime and restore the turtles to their rightful place. With the help of her new friend Marco, she navigates a world of unscrupulous ambassadors, tricky tutors, and international art thieves to unravel one of Roman history’s greatest dramas—before another priceless work of art is stolen.
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.