What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that P.K. Pinkerton and the Petrified Man is the second volume in Caroline Lawrence's mystery series set in Civil War-era Virginia City, Nev. Twelve-year-old autistic hero/narrator P.K. Pinkerton ("I may be half Lakota but I am one hundred percent Methodist") gets his (or possibly her) first case as a detective, as 10-year-old lady's maid Martha hires him to solve the murder of her late mistress, the prostitute Short Sally, before the murderer finds and kills her, too. As in The Case of the Deadly Desperados, P.K.'s soon fleeing bad guys, donning multiple disguises, and chatting with such colorful characters as young Sam Clemens (who would become author Mark Twain), the local madam and her girls, the new minister in town, and an unusual horse in his quest for the truth. The second volume tones down some of Book 1's violence and gore in favor of developing the characters and getting on with the story, but there's still Wild West-style drunkenness, gambling, and mayhem, with untimely deaths by gunplay or accident. A recent catastrophic battle of the Civil War plays a crucial role. There's no profanity (following the conventions of the day, P.K. describes adults as exclaiming "h-ll!"). Both boys and girls still want to kiss P.K., but the kisses he receives come from gratitude, not romance. The book includes a scene of a minstrel show.
What's the story?
Days after the events of The Case of the Deadly Desperados, 12-year-old newly minted detective P.K. Pinkerton gets his first client: Martha, a 10-year-old who may be a runaway slave but who wants him to solve the murder of her late mistress, the "soiled dove" (prostitute) Short Sally, before the murderer comes after Martha. P.K.'s soon on the case, sorting through possible suspects and interviewing colorful local characters, all the while dodging outlaws, boys and girls with kissing on their minds, and the local matron, who thinks he should be in school.
Is it any good?
P.K. and his narrative voice are true originals that will appeal to kids and adults alike: " 'I am not in the Kissing Business,' I said. 'I am in the Detective Business. Do you have a Mystery for me to solve?' " Less lurid than Deadly Desperados, P.K. PINKERTON AND THE PETRIFIED MAN still includes, along with a wealth of vocabulary and historical detail, questionable characters and adult issues from prostitution to slavery. Drunkenness and multiple murders also figure in the tale, so parents might want to read this first to see if it's for their kids.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the Civil War and how it affects life on the other side of the country. Do you know other stories about characters who fled West to avoid the conflict? What happened to them?
Books, movies, and TV shows set in the Wild West used to be more common than they are now. Yet the P.K. Pinkerton series is quite popular. What's fun about stories of kids in the 1800s? What's the appeal of historical fiction?
What do you know about minstrel shows, such as the one in this story? Why do you think they fell out of favor?
|Topics:||Adventures, Friendship, History, Misfits and underdogs|
|Publication date:||April 18, 2013|
|Number of pages:||320|
|Publisher's recommended age(s):||8 - 12|
|Available on:||Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Paperback|