This month's book is "Missing Melinda",by Jacqueline Jackson. It was first published in 1967. The illustrations in mine are by Irene Burns.
|Mine is a somewhat grubby ex-library edition.|
This book has been sitting here waiting to be read for years. We bought it at the library sale,where the books are donated by the library and regular people,and sold to raise money for the library. I always meant to read it to Ivy,but never got around to it. We bought so many books at the book sale and from school order forms, as well as the book store. We couldn't read them all! So I finally got around to reading it myself a couple of weeks ago.
At first I wasn't sure I was going to like this book. I didn't think much of the writing at the very beginning. It got better quickly, and I ended up enjoying it. Beware though! The very first few pages give away the endings of several doll based books, including "Miss Hickory",(which you can read my post on HERE.) and "The Doll's House", by Rumer Godden,which I recently featured as The Doll Book of the Month. You can see that post HERE.
|Edited for your protection.|
"Missing Melinda" involves a pair of twin girls who move into an old deceased relative's loaded house. They venture into the crowded attic the first day there, and find a very old and beautiful doll, who they name Melinda.
Finding Melinda inspires them to write a book. "Missing Melinda" is actually the book they supposedly write about their adventure.
The adventure really gets going when the girls take Melinda to the park, in a wagon. The girls decide to climb a tree,leaving Melinda below in the wagon, lest they break her. When they come back down they discover that Melinda has been stolen.
As I said, the book is 'written' by the twins,who alternate chapters. They're a colourful couple of kids,who have developed the habit of quoting Shakespeare, and using his flowery speech, from their Shakespeare addicted father. (The girls are even named Cordelia and Ophelia.)
The twins set out to find who stole Melinda, and get her back. Along the way they get help from the boy next door, Jimmy, who insists he doesn't want girl neighbours to play with,(but could they play with him, please?).
|He helps the girls as they try to solve the mystery of Melinda's disappearance. Jimmy actually knows quite a lot about dolls himself, and introduces the girls to one of their suspects.|
That's not to say a child wouldn't enjoy the book. The twins are likeable. There's mystery and humour. The girls visit some interesting places and run into memorable characters.
The ending, especially, is exciting. It's a race to catch the culprit before Melinda disappears forever.
The only age recommendation I could find said 7 to 10 year olds,but there was also a review by someone who said it was their favourite book in middle school. (I think middle schoolers read more mature things these days,which isn't to say some might not still enjoy the book.)
I found that Jacqueline Jackson is a local lady! She was born in Washington,worked as a professor of English at the University of Illinois,but at the time "Missing Melinda" was written, she lived in Kent, Ohio,and taught Children's Literature at Kent State University. (Kent State was the site of the famous 1970 shooting, where the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students protesting the bombing of neutral Cambodia,killing four, and injuring nine, students. The incident was the inspiration for the song "Four Dead in Ohio" by Crosby,Stills,Nash,and Young.)
Here's the inside of the "Missing Melinda" dust jacket.
So her daughters reading interests,and actual requests, inspired "Missing Melinda". Other books by Jacqueline Jackson include "Julie's Secret Sloth", "The Paleface Redskins","The Ghost Boat", and "The Taste of Spruce Gum". According to Good Reads she considers "Stories From the Round Barn" and "More Stories From the Round Barn" to be her best works.
I enjoyed "Missing Melinda",and I recommend it for kids who like mysteries with a bit of humour,people who are interested in dolls,and kids who like a good, interesting read they can really get into. The book appears to be out of print, but a used copy can be found on Amazon or Ebay. Some of them can be quite expensive,so shop well!