Cover Image: The Peacock Detectives

The Peacock Detectives

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Member Reviews

Such a fantastic book, centered around one of the best-written child characters I've come across. She's clever, brave and strong with a unique perspective on life and I loved her - we need more female characters like this in children's literature!
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Cassie loves to be a detective. First she tries to help her neighbors find their peacocks, but then Cassie's family life begins to unravel when her father begins acting more strangely than usual and her mother starts spending more time away from home at her new job at a fancy restaurant. Her sister Diana also begins acting weird and distant. Soon Cassie only has her best friend Jonas to bring her worries to, and while they look for the peacocks they also end up finding out more about themselves and growing up a little bit.
I enjoyed this book overall, but I was initially expecting this book to be a little more lighthearted. Serious issues such as mental illness, parents separating, ill family members, friendships, bullying, running away, and more are covered. I didn't like the way the author seemed to be pushing Buddhism and insulting Christianity. This was especially disturbing because this is a children's book. I recommend this book to middle grade students who can handle tough subjects.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. A positive review was not required, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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3 1/2 stars - A good middle grade book about how friendships are formed. Important topics are also covered (like depression) but in a subtle way suitable for young readers.
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Following is the German review of the book. Thereview has been already published on sites like amazon, it's a four star review. 

Schöne Geschichte für junge Leser*innen

Da ich auf der Suche nach englischsprachigen Büchern für meine Nichte bin, habe ich mir diesen Roman näher angeschaut. Er sollte für junge Leser*innen um die 11 Jahre (vielleicht etwas jünger) gut geeignet sein. In dem Buch gibt es Aspekte einer Abenteuergeschichte, aber alles bleibt relativ ruhig und beschaulich. Die Charaktere sind liebevoll gestaltet und ich denke, dass sich junge Leser*innen mit einigen Gedanken der Hauptfigur durchaus identifizieren können. 

Meine Nichte geht in die sechste Klasse und ich befürchte, dass ihr für das Buch doch noch etwas an Wortschatz fehlt. Nächstes Jahr wird die Geschichte für sie aber wahrscheinlich einen Tick zu jung sein, daher wird sie das Buch wohl nicht lesen. Aber enttäuscht bin ich davon nicht wirklich, denn ich habe mit dem Buch eine gute Zeit verbracht und es hat mich daran erinnert, dass ich Bücher für Kinder nichts links liegen lassen sollte. Denn manchmal sind sie kleine Schätze mit wunderbaren Charakteren, die einem das Herz wärmen.
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The Peacock Detectives by Carly Nugent advertises itself as the story of Cassie whose trying to find out what happened to her neighbors' peacocks. Y'all, this is so, so, SO very much more than that. While this is how Cassie's story starts, it covers a great deal as she is navigating some complicated stuff. What especially resonated with me was the theme of mental health that was masterfully done. I loved the care and honesty that was given to this topic, as Cassie show struggles in others, while also managing some feels of her own. If you're looking for a book that could start a conversation on this topic, this could be it. Cassie is also navigating some tough family dynamics, bullying, and an ill grandparent. Each of these happenings are shown from Cassie's perspective which is powerful. Throughout she is working on her story, so she processes each development in real time, and y'all, again, it's just beautiful. I loved how authentic and real Cassie's story was. This one gave voice to stuff kids are definitely experiencing and can't always make sense of. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at what I thought was going to a lighthearted book, but instead gave me so, so much more.
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“Autumn by the river feels slippery, and almost-but-not-quite cold. It sometimes feels dark, too, because in autumn we put the clocks back, so when it’s five o’clock it’s really six o’clock, and there’s less daylight. It’s the reverse of daylight savings. It is daylight spendings.”

The Peacock Detectives is the first novel by prize-winning Australian author, Carly Nugent. When William Shakespeare and Virginia go missing, Mr and Mrs Hudson engage the services of eleven-going-on-twelve-year-old Cassie Andersen to find them. William Shakespeare and Virginia are ornamental peacocks and Cassie has a reputation for being able to find lost things. She notes down all her observations in her Notebook for Noticing, but the birds are proving difficult to track down. 

Cassie enlists the help of her best friend Jonas, but is distracted from her investigation by things that are happening at home: Mum is forever busy cooking up strange dishes from her night course; older sister, Diana has gone vegetarian and is into Buddhist meditation; her Grandpa is mysteriously absent from church and tired all the time; and Dad is behaving a little strangely and seems to be filling the cupboards with little boxes.

Cassie thinks she and Jonas make a great team because she knows stories and he knows scientific facts, which he regularly shares: “Did you know vultures help prevent diseases from spreading?” and “Did you know Greece is one of the biggest producers of sponges?” and “Did you know if a shark stops swimming it will die?” (Sharks are Jonas’s favourite things).

Through it all, Cassie is keeping detailed notes, because Cassie is a writer, and this is a story she intends to tell. Dad is an English teacher, and encourages her to note events and dialogue, and to think about a theme. But what she notes down, especially about her family, often leaves her with more questions than answers.

This is a book some quirky characters and some very ordinary ones (a bit like life, really) who deal with the everyday challenges that make up life. Cassie is a truly likeable character with a genuinely good heart who manages to mature and gain some insight over the months it takes her to finally catch those elusive peacocks. Cassie’s eleven-year-old voice feels authentic: at times, childishly naïve, at times, incredibly perceptive.

Aimed at a reading age of 9+, this story covers themes of mental illness, adoption, marriage breakdown, terminal illness, bullying and friendship in a sensitive and age-appropriate manner. It is easy to see why this little book won the Readings Children’s Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Text Prize. The illustrations by Sophie Beer are a charming enhancement to this warm and heartfelt tale that need not be limited to children. 
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Text Publishing.
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This book accomplishes what so many try and fail to do, capture the authentic voice of an 11 (going on 12) year old. It's title may confuse some as they dig into the book as hunting peacocks isn't the main focus of the book, but rather a plot element that does move the story along. 
Personally, I love the breaking of the fourth wall and speaking to the reader and I think it is done quite well in this book. Empathy is a thread throughout this book and one of the biggest reasons I will recommend it to others and add to my library's collection. All humans encounter others who are going through "stuff" and this book Cassie (main character) both observes these happenings and tries to understand how others might be feeling and why. Additionally, she comments on her own feelings in relatable ways that are accessible to children. 
Finally, I personally appreciate the author's explanation of the seasons in Australia, which will be helpful to readers in other places. 
Genuinely, this book is a true delight.
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It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that children who enjoy reading will likely read more. The same holds true for adults. Children who read more get exposed to more material, each holding new opportunities, presenting stimulating concepts, introducing them to new cultures, and engaging both their imaginative and empathetic muscles.

If a book comes along that somehow manages to do all this at once, however, it likely does come as a surprise. We don’t expect this to happen very often. The very existence of such a work is a gift, it seems, and one that ought to be shared.

Such is the case with Carly Nugent’s debut middle grade novel, The Peacock Detectives (Text Publishing). The book releases August 29th, 2019, in Australia, Ms. Nugent’s homeland, but young readers in America will have to wait until January 14th, 2020. This is a shame because the book pulls off quite a feat.

The novel centers around Cassandra Andersen (called Cassie by her family and friends, Andersen by her enemies), an “eleven-turning-twelve” year-old girl with a penchant for sleuthing and storytelling, especially when it comes to her neighbors’ pet peacocks. As she puts it, “Noticing details makes me a good writer and it also makes me a good detective, like Sherlock Holmes.”

We meet her best friend, Jonas, a science-loving boy who spouts trivia facts at every opportunity, and her enemy Rhea Grimm, whose personality bristles at Cassie and causes a number of conflicts. The supporting cast deftly provides fodder for intrigue and plot progression.

However, Cassie’s parents and sister play the more difficult roles. Through mysterious circumstances (to an eleven-turning-twelve year-old) and a series of unfortunate events, Cassie discovers (and we along with her) that life is not always as it seems — or as we remember it to be.

Ms. Nugent sets this book apart not only with phenomenal writing for young readers, but she also incorporates educational moments throughout in a way that is seamless, instructional, clever, and above all, fun.

Written in the first person, we experience the world through Cassie’s eyes. Her mind seeks to suss out the meaning in everything and to show her work at every step. She talks about different parts of speech, the definitions of interesting words, and even the inner workings of a piece of literature. Ms. Nugent does all this without ever striking a pedantic tone.

On the contrary, what the reader finds through Cassie, her parents and sister, Jonas and the rest is a place where learning, reading, writing, and problem-solving are integral aspects of the world, as natural as eating or sleeping. This approach lends the pages credibility via entertainment and art.

In one passage, Cassie expertly describes the mechanics of storytelling and the difficulties inherent in being a writer of fiction (she also introduces some vocabulary):

When you are writing a story for the first time it is hard to decide which details are important and which ones are superfluous (i.e. ones you don’t need to understand the story). This is because sometimes you don’t know what your story is about until it is finished. So you have to write down everything and when you get to the end you can go back and cross out the superfluous details.

In the span of just a few short sentences, Ms. Nugent has Cassie wax philosophic on the nature of writing, defines a tricky word which happens to be related to the subject, then uses that word again in context to reinforce the point. Quite the hat trick.

The book is chockfull of such gems and nuggets of wisdom. I have no complaints about the book — except perhaps that it won’t be available to American children until next year. Once The Peacock Detectives does hit bookstores here, though, I have a feeling this award-winning novel will have young readers (and their parents) snatching it off shelves as quickly as they can.
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Cassie Anderson is great at noticing details. She writes these in her "Notebook for Noticing", and likes to make stories out of her observations. When her neighbors discover their pair of peacocks is missing, they hire Cassie to find them. On her quest as a Peacock Detective, Cassie uncovers many truths; about her family, friends and life. This completely heartwarming story is narrated by an "eleven-turning-twelve" year old who is witty and wise. You will love her and her story beginning with the first chapter.
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This is the story of a missing peaccock and peahen.

But, that is really a minor part of the story. The author, the narrator, is well aware of how she wants to tell this story, of a year in her life, and though she tries to make it about the peacocks, it really is about friendship, and mean girls, and unhappy fathers, and her total inability to see what is going on before it happens.

So, even though the peacocks turned out to not be as important to the story, the people who do appear in the story, you do feel for.  

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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For a middle-grade novel, 'The Peacock Detectives' touches on some pretty heavy themes, including mental illness, breakups and death. Cassie's narration allows for a sensitive, intelligent exploration of these issues, perfectly pitched for its young audience. This is a story of hope and growth.

Cassie is an endearing protagonist - an enthusiastic if not always reliable storyteller. At its heart, this is her coming of age story, and I loved seeing the world through her eyes. Sensitive, naturally inquisitive and amusingly awkward, she feels very relatable and real. Her unique voice will appeal to older and younger readers alike.

'The Peacock Detectives' is a beautifully written, bittersweet novel for young readers, a heartfelt story with a charming sense of humour.
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This was a cute story for a middle grade audience. I felt like it was an appropriate representation of a middle grade-aged girl, though it seemed a bit slow and tangential for me as an adult.
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I really liked the look of this book and wasn’t sure what to expect.  The story itself is very good and I enjoyed it.  
I must admit, I found the voice of the writer, the main character, to be too informal for my taste.  The use of descriptions about being a writer and the process was not my taste.

I did like the main character and found myself very curious about her and whether she might be on the autistic spectrum.  She is dealing with a lot of family issues throughout the story and I felt sympathy for her.  Family break ups can be incredibly hard to write about and understand but this is dealt with sensitively.  Her relationship with her sister is changing as well.

I think the story line about the peacocks was funny and it kept the story together.
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The Peacock Detectives by Carly Nugent is categorized as ''children's fiction', but I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed it as an adult novel.  Eleven year old Cassie provides a charming, fresh, and engaging narrative voice that provides a level of insight and maturity that is well beyond her years.

Cassie identifies as a writer, and sets out to pen a true story involving a case of a pair of missing peacocks.  But as Cassie embarks on a quest to find her neighbours' missing birds, she is unknowingly partaking in a journey of self-discovery, and learning to embrace change in her own rapidly changing world, particularly as it pertains to her own family dynamic.  Cassie is empathetic, sensitive, and inquisitive, and joining in her search for truth is pure joy.  This is a delightful story that I would recommend to young and old alike.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Text Publishing for this lovely ARC.
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