No child likes to move to a new place. When the Smithforks leave their humble home in Brooklyn to live in a posh Manhattan apartment, CJ (12), Brid (9), Patrick (6) and Carron (2) feel like they have not only lost their friends; they also feel they have lost their parents. Mr. Smithfork, recently turned video game king, works so much that he rarely has time for his children. Maricel, the nanny, replaces Mrs. Smithfork as the children’s primary caregiver while their mother meets with interior decorators. Making friends in exclusive private schools presents its own problems. At least they have each other.
Their loneliness might have torn them apart, but CJ, Brid, and Patrick uncover evidence that the long lost wealth of their apartment’s former owner may still be somewhere in New York City. They learn that the heiress to the fortune is the little old lady (Eloise Post) who lives downstairs and combine forces with her to find her inheritance. Guided by a book of poetry, they embark on a scavenger hunt all over Manhattan to see various architectural masterpieces. CJ’s love for reading, Brid’s detective instinct, and Patrick’s courage and determination inspire Eloise to reopen a chapter in her life she had thought was long dead.
Maureen Sherry has created a delightful mystery in this, her first novel. Basing it on a mystery she herself created in her apartment for her four children, Sherry presents a wonderful story of sibling loyalty. The children in the story respect and admire each other. CJ and Brid demonstrate sensitivity and a protective nature towards Patrick. Patrick, for his part, does his best to keep up with them without getting touchy. He appears to have dyslexia as well as an ability to perceive details others usually overlook. He uses both of these characteristics to his advantage. Thankfully, Mrs. Smithfork realizes towards the end of the book that she misses the days when the family spent time together and decides to speak to her husband about this. Even Mr. Smithfork never completely abandons his parenting responsibilities. While traveling in China on business, he realizes that the children have used his computer to skip school and solve the mystery. He immediately informs them that they will pay for their misdeeds. Readers can look forward to seeing how the Smithforks reassess their lives in a sequel that Sherry hints at writing.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.