#AussieAuthor2021, #LoveOZMG, adventure, Australian literature, Australian women writers, Book Industry, Books, challenges, Children's Literature, Crime/Mystery, Friday Barnes, humour, Junior Fiction, literary fiction, middle grade, Publishers, R.A. Spratt, Reading, Reviews, The Modern Mrs Darcy

Friday Barnes: The Plot Thickens by R.A. Spratt

Title: Friday Barnes: The Plot Thickens

Author: R.A. Spratt

Genre: Crime/Mystery

Publisher: Puffin/Penguin Random House

Published: 7th January 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 256

Price: $15.99

Synopsis: Friday Barnes is being attacked on all fronts!

Friday Barnes is being attacked on all fronts!

When Friday Barnes gets involved in her frenemy Ian Wainscott’s family dispute, it appears her knack for uncovering the truth may ruin their friendship once and for all.

Highcrest Academy is no longer a fun place to be. Ian has declared war on Friday and she is thinking of leaving . . . for good. Meanwhile, there’s two new teachers to contend with – a celebrity artist whose intentions are somewhat unclear, and an over-enthusiastic PE teacher on a fitness crusade. Between them and Ian, it’s going to be one dangerous term. Can Friday repair her friendship with Ian, restore her perfect school–life balance and work out who is committing the blatant acts of vandalism around Highcrest? No one said high school would be easy!

~*~

With the ninth Friday Barnes coming out early next month, I’m working hard to read the rest, as they each follow on from each other. It is definitely a series that needs to be read in order to truly appreciate, enjoy and understand what is going on.

Friday’s days at Highcrest have seen her become well-known – some people like her because she has helped them, and others have a certain disdain for her. Yet this time around, Friday has to contend with a rather enthusiastic PE teacher, determined to whip them all into shape, however painful it will be, and an art teacher who has his own secrets. And Friday must also contend with her fractured friendship with Ian.

Friday’s investigations into fraud around her school bring her closer to conclusions that will rock the school and will show that the school just simply cannot function without their resident detective at the helm. Even though the Headmaster would like her to stop investigating everything – even he can’t deny how useful she is!

In this installment, the pranks abound, and we all know who is behind them. It gives colour to what is going on as Friday and Melanie navigate school, friendship, crimes and Friday’s head injuries to uncover an act of fraud and someone else’s supposedly illicit escapades outside the school. But how does Friday work out what is going on, and who is the culprit?

This series is fun, and gives kids and other readers a hero who isn’t what everyone expects. She’s a kid, she’s awkward and she is flawed – and these flaws are front and centre. In doing this, R.A. Spratt has shown that it is okay not be perfect. That yes, there will be conflict with others, but it shows that conflict and tension between friends is a part of life. It tells kids it is okay to like what you do, that it is okay to like school, and that you don’t have to like sport or be good at everything. It’s a series that celebrates those kids who aren’t necessarily good at sports or performance-based activity at school.

A school where there are always crimes to investigate would be an interesting school to attend – and it is delightful to see each book build on the previous one, creating an intricate yet easy-to-follow story for readers aged nine and older. Friday’s humour and bluntness are a key part of her character, and she is brought to life so well throughout the series, that in each book, we learn something new about her. It will be fun and interesting to see where she goes to in the next few books and what happens next at Highcrest Academy.

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