4 out of 4 stars
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Agnes Kelly is a smart, meticulous, witty, curious, plucky, adventurous, resourceful, inquisitive, and a sneaky 12-year-old lass. Her penchant for books almost lost her chance to be with her grandmother Agee, her dad's mother and her namesake, in the airport bookshop on their way to Istanbul, Turkey. Their journey is set not for leisure, but in quest of the details to uncover the truth about her father's early death. Intrigued by her granny's solo flight outs, she sneaks out, and cleverly follows her with determination despite the risks involve as a stranger in a foreign country.
Yusuf, a boy with a bike, becomes her friend, and her partner in stalking. Disguised as Turkish shoppers, they follow her granny in the Spice Market as close as hearing the conversations without being detected. The shocking details of her granny's conversation with her dad's partner, Nero Bahar, makes her sniff and sneeze out a noseful of yellow spice powder on the mound that she is pretending to be looking at. Is there any perfect disguise than wearing a yellow spice face mask?
Intrigue in Istanbul (An Agnes Kelly Mystery Adventure) by Christine Keleny is published by CKBooks Publishing (the author's own publishing company) in 2015. This is the first book of the Agnes Kelly Mystery Adventure trilogy. The story is set in 1961 during the Cold War and space travel, and is narrated in the first-person perspective of Agnes. It has (short, but concise) 146 standard pages with 250 words per page, and is filed under children's book genre.
The vivid descriptions of Istanbul historical landmarks that Agnes and her granny visited, and the high level of vocabulary words and idiomatic expressions Agnes shares, make the book very insightful. The contents match the middle schooler's topics. There are two separate maps (of Istanbul, and Turkey) at the beginning of the book, but not following the route that Agnes and her granny had treaded. The pictures before each chapter are skillfully sketched (not dirty doodles). At the end of this book, a letter from Agnes acts like the book's glossary. Reading this book is fun, and the touch of humour is refreshing. I'm pretty sure everything in this book will linger in the minds of the children long after reading the story. Thus, makes learning easy, and memorable. If given the chance to suggest, I would encourage this book be added to the middle schooler's English, and History textbooks. My explanations above make this book stand out from the books of this genre.
Glancing at the cover, I thought the intrigue is something connected to Islamic faith, which triggers me to review this book. I found out that anything about faith is not the main focus of the story - the Blue Mosque, and the Hagia Sophia which was converted from a Greek Orthodox Christian church to an Islamic mosque. It mentions one of the five pillars of Islam is to help the needy, and the existence of the evil eye - I agree. However, believing that evil eye amulet protects, gives happiness, and wards off evil eyes, is a clear deviance to the Islamic faith (equivalent to disbelief). In Christianity, holding of Saint Christopher medal for intercession, and solace in times of distress shows devotion that is very common to religious Christians.
The adjectives I use in describing Agnes manifest how much I admire her. After the burial of her father, I am wearing a silly grin while reading her story all the way until the end. One of the idiomatic expressions that made me laugh out loud is this: "I’m a monkey’s uncle." On the other hand, Yusuf is a likeable character, too. Agnes describe him as a pied piper, but for me, he's a little Robin Hood. I would like to highlight to the young readers that stealing is still evil despite the good intentions. Due to poverty, he is stealing food, and money for his family - 6 little siblings, and his mother. I wonder where his father is, or if they still have a father because it is not mentioned in this book. The characters, and the author's descriptions of the situation in Istanbul, make the book more realistic. The voices of the characters are distinctive. It frees the readers from confusion between Agnes and her granny's conversations.
There is nothing I dislike in this book. The two grammatical errors, and a few left out necessary commas (,) are unnoticeable, and did not distract me from enjoying while reading this book. I proudly give Intrigue in Istanbul (An Agnes Kelly Mystery Adventure) by Christine Keleny a perfect 4 out of 4 rating. I recommend this book to all audiences, since this is a wholesome book. I may sound like a repetitive remix, but I just like to remind the youngsters again about stealing. Though Yusuf was not penalised for doing so, this had caused worst effects to others. Please bear in mind, it's a delinquency that should be avoided. The middle schoolers can benefit the most from the vast knowledge this book contains especially if they would follow the protagonist's way of acquiring knowledge. The book closes with both a reveal and a cliffhanger giving way to the next sequel.
Intrigue in Istanbul
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