Lark and the Dessert Disaster
Lark and the Dessert Disaster
“Someone snuck into the baking area. They destroyed one of the desserts. I’m worried the culprit might be one of the contestants,” said Mrs. Hamilton. “The two of you have already solved three mysteries in the neighborhood. Can you help me? Please, Lark and Connor. We can’t have someone who ruins someone else’s property participating in the contest!”
Lark and the Dessert Disaster is the latest action-filled mystery in the “Lark Ba Detectives” series by Natasha Deen. Lark and her twin brother Connor are excited to be judges in a community baking contest, but when they arrive, they discover that one of the dessert entries has been deliberately destroyed. Mrs. Hamilton, who organized the contest, asks them to find the culprit before the judging begins, and the suspects include the contestants. With only an hour to solve the mystery, the young detectives set off on a challenging investigation.
Readers will enjoy Lark’s realistic and often funny first-person narration and her fascination with words. Her authorship of the text, including crossed out words, such as intreeging, intreaging, intriguing and idioms such as ‘shoo-in’ and ‘down in the mouth’, illustrates an excellent reading strategy to the younger reader and encourages vocabulary development. The section at the back of the book, The Words Lark Loves and The Words Lark “Almost” Got, explains some of these words.
Lark and the Dessert Disaster is an “Orca Echo” book designed to address topics of social responsibilities and character building through entertaining stories. Throughout this book, the reader will encounter words such as Halomi, the Korean word for Lark’s Korean grandmother, Babu, Swahili for Lark’s grandfather, babushka, Sophie’s grandmother, and kutia, the dessert that was destroyed. The inclusion of these words and other multi-cultural references adds a richness to the characters and the plot.
When Connor helps Lark read the rules for judging the contest, he covers up all but one line to help her. Lark explains that she has dyslexia and tells the reader what it means. Also, the child-adult relationship is positively portrayed. While giving Lark and Connor the opportunity to investigate the mystery, the adults, particularly Halomi, are nearby to offer support and encouragement. Author Natasha Deen skillfully blends these social and development issues into an engaging and humourous story.
As in the previous three “Lark Ba Detectives” books, illustrator Marcus Cutler enhances the text with amusing black and white illustrations. Together with the easy-to-read font style and the flow of the first-person narration, Lark and the Dessert Disaster will appeal to both young and reluctant readers. The author’s clever reference to ‘good’ questions throughout the book highlights another detection strategy in the mystery genre. This engaging story will not only have readers wanting another Lark Ba mystery, but it might also expand their reading experience to other books in this genre.
Janice Foster, a retired teacher and teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.