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Mina Mistry (sort of) Investigates – The Case of the Disgusting School Dinners

Written by Annie Lake & Illustrated by Ellie O’Shea

Published by Sweet Cherry Publishing – 10th September 2020

Marshmallow Frittata anyone? Or maybe I can tempt you with Chicken Nugget Pizza, washed down with an extra fizzy cola topped with (more) marshmallows? Didn’t think so!

The dinners at Greenville Elementary school are DISGUSTING! An absolute junk food fest! There isn’t a healthy fresh ingredient in sight, which is really odd seeing as the school is having a healthy-eating drive and has organised a charity fun run. Why would the school encourage healthy eating but serve up such unusually un-healthy lunches?

Prodding her marshmallow frittata with a fork, Mina Snotbridge (her boring real name) knows that something doesn’t add up. Fair enough, kids can’t live on lettuce and leeks alone but a school serving sweets, sweets with a side of more sweets suggests suspicious circumstances. There’s a 6 month wait for the dentists too. Somebody is up to no good. It sounds like a case for… Mina Mistry! (cue secret under-cover name)

Mina is ably assisted in her investigations by her co-detective Mr Panda, an extreme sports-loving cuddly toy (who can usually be found reading a copy of ‘Bungee Jumping Monthly’) and her best friend Holly Loafer (a strawberry lip gloss, sparkly leg-warmer wearing wannabe pop-star)

Granny Meera, Mina’s part-time caterer grandmother and experimental cuisine extraordinaire also offers her services. With creations like ‘steak and kidney vindaloo’ ‘baked bean biryani quiche’ and ‘sticky toffee pudding masala’ there’s no wonder her catering business is called ‘Con-Fusion!’ Onion bahjis-in-the-hole actually sounded quite tempting but I really do have to draw the line at her tandori chicken and lentil custard!

The list of suspects in this school dinner who dunnit grows and grows. Could the culprit be Miss Quimby, a teacher famous for her love of doughnuts or the school cook, Mrs Mudge herself? Even Mr Norton the Head teacher is under suspicion. Mina must go under-cover and use her powers of detection to dump the junk food and ensure it’s winner winner, chicken dinner all round.

Mina Mistry Investigates is a wonderfully witty detective series, perfect for readers aged 7+ My son has just entered Lower Key Stage 2 and thoroughly enjoyed this book. Engaging illustrations, varied fun fonts, speech bubbles and private investigator-style ‘Personal Files’ help to bridge the gap at this tricky stage where children are not yet ready for long, middle grade novels.

Food is always a winner where my son is concerned but he also really enjoyed the school setting. He said it kept making him imagine the story was set at his school and Mina training for the Fun Run reminded him of their Daily Mile. We also had a really in depth conversation about ‘Food Friends’ and ‘Food Foes’ after Mina’s healthy eating talk. Like Mina, he craftily asked ‘what if you have vegetables on your pizza…does that make it a food friend?’ Nice try! (Although I’ve heard Chocolate Orange definitely counts as one of your 5 a day!)

It was also really refreshing to read a funny book with him that didn’t rely on toilet humour and/or really naughty characters. Although very witty, the book did promote some very sensible conversations and we had to use our powers of elimination to solve the mystery.

We shall definitely look out for the next Mina Mistry Investigation – Mina Mistry (sort of) Investigates the Case of the Disappearing Pets. My son hopes that Mr Panda is not one of the pets to vanish!

Thank you to Sweet Cherry Publishing for sending me a copy to review.

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