The Mystery of the Missing Mum


Jake writes a list of all the places his mother might be:- Dad’s? Tesco? Oxford Street? The Bahamas? When he trundles downstairs on an ordinary school morning to discover his mother missing, he’s alarmed. What’s more, although his older sister, Rose, is perturbed, she’s not panicked like Jake. Therefore, it’s down to Jake to discover his mother’s whereabouts.

However as he begins to hunt, it seems others don’t feel the urgency as him. Certainly, Dad’s concerned, but then Dad’s well organised, and doesn’t want Jake’s before- school enquiry to get in the way of his need to start the day. Then again, Grandma’s at Jake’s house and his Dad and Grandma do not get on very well. Furthermore, why is Grandma at Jake’s house and why doesn’t she explain anything to him?

Meanwhile, his best friend, Lukas seems diffident. His ears go pink when he sees or talks to Nerdy Nora. So, why is he interested in her all of a sudden. Does it mean that he no longer wants to be Jake’s best friend, and then in his time of need?

We feel the confusion, panic and growing desperation of The Mystery of the Missing Mum, alongside our own realisation of what has happened. It means that we’re fully engaged in Jake’s dilemma, and then to his life. Bookwagon recommends this empathetic, pacy and beautifully realised debut middle grade novel.

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The Mystery of the Missing Mum

Frances Moloney

(Pushkin Children’s)

While Rose seems perturbed by Mum’s absence on a school morning, Jake is alarmed. What has happened to her? He creates a list of possibilities. Dad’s? Tesco? EU? Thereafter, it seems at every turn, Jake meets resistance and confusion. Where is his mother?
It seems that his grandmother’s presence is a worry also. What is she doing here? Then again, why does she not give him any answers? It’s obvious that she and Jake’s Dad know something, although why aren’t they telling him? What’s more, Jake’s best friend, Lukas seems removed and disinterested. Not only is he recommending that Jake takes no notice of Neil’s taunts, but he’s hanging out with Nerdy Nora. What is going on?
Frances Moloney‘s first novel, The Mystery of the Missing Mum is not what I expected. While its title and graphics from Thy Bui suggest a ‘comedy’ novel, this is a really clever title. It means that we track Jake’s investigation in real time, alongside being party to his discoveries, missteps and recollections. What’s more, as his understanding dawns, ‘we’re there ahead of him. It is a very clever, empathetic and skilfully paced story. Like Has Anyone Seen Archie Ebbs?, The Mystery of the Missing Mum deals with real issues, and with a character whose life is small and close through necessity. Therefore, his mother’s absence is meaningful, and more meaningful as we understand what’s really behind it.
Bookwagon recommends this empathetic, thoughtful novel to intelligent, emotionally aware middle grade readers.


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