Violet and the Pearl of the Orient is Harriet Whitehorn’s debut children’s book, but it is an adventure brimful of charm, told with brio and a good deal of panache.
Violet lives with her parents in a ‘very stylish and incredibly tidy flat’. They share the garden with all the other children and grown-ups who live around it. An illustrated double page spread introduces the cast of characters to the reader by telling us about their favourite things to eat, a typically economical and clever bit of description. At first everything in the garden is lovely, well except for Violet’s best friend Rose’s mean older brother Stanley, but then a new family move in. Violet takes an immediate dislike to the Count and Countess Du Plicitous and their daughter Isabella, and no wonder: they’re snobby and thoroughly unpleasant. When the Countess starts talking jewels and mentions her favourite costume jeweler Mr. Frederick Orger, readers’ suspicions should be aroused. Sure enough, when a valuable piece of jewellery is stolen from Violet’s favourite neighbour, former Hollywood starlet Dee Dee Derota, the finger points at the Du Plicitouses. Violet can see this, but she’ll have a hard job to convince her parents, let alone the police.
Crime solving children are nothing new of course, but the setting and Whitehorn’s writing, as stylish and tidy as Violet’s flat, give this particular appeal. Young readers, particularly fans of Lauren Child, will be very taken with Violet and her world. Illustrations by Becka Moor match the lively style perfectly. There are more adventures for Violet to come.