From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6-Clara Frankofile is a pompous, snobbish 11-year-old who spends her evenings people-watching from a corner table in her parents' chic New York City restaurant, Pish Posh. She has the unique ability to determine which members of society's upper crust are no longer worthy to dine at the fashionable establishment. When Clara banishes a kindly but washed-up eye surgeon, he tells her that a peculiar mystery is unfolding right under her very nose. This revelation leads to Clara's improbable alliance with a cunning 12-year-old jewel thief, and together they embark on a perilous adventure that leads to the uncovering of a 200-year-old secret. Attempts at whimsy fail in this overly ambitious novel that tries to cover too much ground to achieve any real substance. Clara is insufferable from any perspective, and even with a seemingly endless cast of secondary characters, it is difficult to find anyone to applaud or admire. The story teems with frivolity, yet contains incongruous elements of cruelty and gruesomeness, resulting in a disjointed tale for which the target audience is unclear. Readers looking for a wonderful book of adventure and triumph of the downtrodden over the social elite should try SF Said's Varjak Paw (Random, 2003).-Debbie Lewis O'Donnell, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL
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Gr. 4-6. Stylish 11-year-old Clara Frankofile spends her evenings presiding over a table at her father's trendy Manhattan restaurant, Pish Posh, snobbishly checking out the clientele to determine who qualifies as a Nobody, suitable for immediate expulsion. Alerted to a mystery right under her nose, she investigates the restaurant's peculiar soup chef, aided by her friend (and sometime thief) Annabelle. This zany mixture of reality and fantasy (the soup chef turns out to be more than 200 years old) offers many interesting characters for readers to ponder: Clara, a child of wealth and privilege, who has spent so much time critiquing her world that she has missed out on childhood; her father, Pierre, who claims to be French despite being Brooklyn born and bred; and Annabelle, who regrets that her father's decision to abandon his life of crime leaves her with a myriad of unusable skills. Recommend this to sophisticated middle-graders, especially those who know the author's Olivia Kidney books. Kay Weisman
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