Libby And The Parisian Puzzle by Jo Clarke, illustrated by Becka Moor

Publication Date: 3 March 2022

The Blurb

Mystery-lover Libby is excited but nervous when she’s sent to live with her aunt while her mother is working abroad. Aunt Agatha is the headmistress of an extraordinary travelling school that moves from country to country…

Libby joins the school in Paris, where she is just starting to find her feet when Agatha is arrested, accused of a daring jewel robbery! Can Libby and her new best friend Connie find the real thief and save her aunt?

Cover and internal illustrations by Becka Moor

The Review

An utterly delightful and intriguing mystery that transports you to Paris, and will leave you in dire need of hot chocolate and macarons as you read.

I loved getting to know Libby as she travelled to Paris, with her sleuthing tendencies never far from the surface. Once in the Travelling School, her friendship with Connie blossoms quickly as they bond over plenty of French food, whether breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. (Honestly, just get yourself a snack board to much while you read).

As the mystery progresses, we see both Libby and Connie show more of themselves to each other, and I loved the slow reveal of Connie’s background. Libby is brave, bold and level headed while trying to unravel the knots that see her aunt arrested and definitely not afraid to ask for help from her friends.

Every trip out immerses you further into the Parisian setting, brought beautifully to life by Jo’s writing, and Libby’s keen eye for detail. Becka Moor’s illustrations, scattered liberally throughout, capture the joyful nature of the story, and it’s characters and setting perfectly.

There is something truly wonderful about a school that changes destination for each term, and I cannot wait to head back next term and see where Jo, and Libby, take us next.

Great for fans of:

  • The Highland Falcon Thief by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgeman
  • A Chase In Time by Sally Nicholls
  • The Secret Of The Night Train by Sylvia Bishop

The Guest Post

Researching Libby and the Parisian Puzzle – Jo Clarke

Setting the first book in ‘The Travelling School Mysteries,’ in Paris seemed like the perfect choice. I fell in love with Paris on a freezing January in 1997. Even the bitter winds and cloudy skies couldn’t distract from the beauty of this city. I arranged a surprise trip to Paris for my boyfriend (now husband) 21st birthday.

Jo in front of the Louvre

Over the past 25 years, I returned many times. Each visit I’ve stayed in a different arrondissement and tried to find somewhere new to experience. I wrote this book during the first lockdown which meant unfortunately I couldn’t just jump on the Eurostar for a research trip, instead I had to rely on my memories. If you choose to use a real location, then you have to be realistic and accurate. One thing that springs to my mind when writing this story was when the school took a journey on the metro to the Pompidou centre. I needed to be find out the nearest metro stops on the map and check the length of the journey on a travel planner. I always had a map to hand with all the key locations plotted out, so I could see how and where the plot was unfolding.

I needed to be sure that it felt realistic to those familiar with Paris and give a real flavour of its many charms for those who have never visited. I used children’s travel guides to give me ideas about places and facts that might be of interest. Things about a city that may appeal to adults may hold little interest to children so I felt it was important to get the balance right. I had a writer friend – who used to live in Paris – read my manuscript and give me feedback. One of the changes I made was moving the location of the school to near the Eiffel Tower based on her feedback that the description of my setting wasn’t an accurate reflection of the location.

I’m a very visual writer and always use images as prompt when I’m writing. It really helps me to imagine what is happening in front of me. The school is set in a Haussmann style building, so I found similar floor layouts and plotted out where everyone’s room would be to make sure the story worked and that characters were in the right places at the right time. I also created mood boards on Pinterest featuring the key clues and locations of the book. These became really useful when I was discussing illustrations with my editor and my illustrator Becka Moor. For example, I had a very clear vision of what the brooch stolen in the robbery looked like, the peacock hat the mysterious lady wears and exactly what my version of Paris looked like. Becka brought my version of Paris to life in her very own way, completely surpassing my own imagination.

Parisian Moodboard

By setting ‘The Travelling School Mysteries,’ in different locations, I’m hoping that children will enjoy exploring new places. I had so much fun researching, ‘Libby and the Parisian Puzzle,’ and I’m hoping that shines through in the book.

The Scavenger Hunt

Built for the Word Fair in 1889, it was erected as a temporary structure and a group of artists were furious about its creation, naming it the ‘metal asparagus.’ It is still the most iconic and tallest monument in Paris. Each winter an open air ice-skating rink is created on the first level and it is as big as an average sized tennis court.

Huge thanks to Firefly Press for sending me an early review copy and inviting me to take part in the blog tour, and to Jo for such an insightful guest post into her research for Libby and the Parisian Puzzle. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops.

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