My oldest daughter and I have been reading the advanced copies of middle grade books that I receive from Netgalley. I wanted to be able to include my twins, who are a little too young for middle grade books. So, my twins and I have been reading books from the Best Book Club Ever. You might remember these books from the late 1970s and early 1980s. They have been picking one book each night, and I have been enjoying rediscovering some childhood favorites.
The Mystery at Number Seven, Rue Petite was written by Ellen Shire, and it was originally published in 1978.
This is the story of Isabelle and Jean-Pierre, a husband and wife who work for the grumpy Monsieur Pompeux. Isabelle is a very good housekeeper and Jean-Pierre is a talented book, but M. Pompeux always finds something to complain about. They dream about opening up their own restaurant, but it doesn’t seem like their dreams will ever come true. What will happen when M. Pompeux leaves Jean-Pierre and Isabelle in charge of his antique store?
The illustrations are one of the most memorable things about this book. I remember reading this book as a child, and I probably couldn’t have told you about the plot, but I could have told you about the illustrations. The colors used are a little more subdued than many of the books published nowadays, and there’s something charming about their realistic style. Our favorite picture would have to be the one of Jean-Pierre in his kitchen. He’s working on a large salad, and there’s a delicious-looking soufflé in the oven.
This is a children’s book that doesn’t have any children or animals in it, which makes it rather unique. Children are naturally drawn to other children, and anthropomorphic animals are often used as a substitute for human adults. Adults going about their business is not necessarily going to be interesting; I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but things do get interesting at the antique store after M. Pompeux leaves!
I would recommend The Mystery at Number Seven Rue Petite. This book has been out of print for years, but used copies are readily available on Amazon. I wasn’t sure if my girls would like it, but they listened intently. They asked questions, and they were surprised by what happened. This is a cute story, and I love being able to share these childhood favorites with my daughters.