Nanny in NYC

A modern day Mary Poppins

Friday, September 08, 2006

Kiki Strike and the Shadow City

I recently finished reading Kiki Strike and the Shadow City, the debut novel of Kirsten Miller, a Manhattan Ad Exec turned young adult writer. I had anticipated the release of the book after reading this article in the May/June issue of TONY Kids, about Miller and her characters who are anything but girly-girls. It was fitting that I discovered that particular TONY Kids issue while waiting for a pedicure with Phoebe (one of my old charges, now 10). Her mother and I got pedicures that day, but Phoebe refused, because only girly-girls paint their nails and she has made a life choice not to give in to the lure of nail polish and all it's attendant evils.

The book is a fun read, although it's a little difficult (as an adult, at least) to suspend disbelief about some of the activities the 5 "delinquent Girl Scouts" engage in. This includes climbing down through sewers and secret passages into an underground "city" below New York, making millions of dollars through the sale of a rodent deterrent device, opening their own businesses, planting various IEDs (that's improvised explosive device, for those of you who's friends don't make them watch CNN constantly) and showing absolutely no respect for their curfews. Ok, I guess there's no suspension of disbelief needed for that last one.

Kirsten Miller knows that "ya gotta get a gimmick," so each chapter ends with how-to spy and detective tips such as "How to Catch a Liar", "How to Follow Someone Undetected" and my personal favorite "How to Take Advantage of Being a Girl". Let's just say that it on some level I was kind of sad that I didn't have some secret Manhattan mystery to solve, otherwise I might have grabbed dark glasses and a trench coat and been off on an adventure.

It is, however, a first novel, and it shows--most obviously in the dialog and the slow start. I still enjoyed it, and as most 9-13 year-olds aren't quite as critical as myself, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It would be an excellent read to prepare for a trip to the city. The epilogue details real "secret" spots in the city, such as "Lost" Cemeteries, Hidden Houses and Castles.

Special thanks to Liz B. at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy for giving me a great shortcut to the links above.

Technorati Tags: , , Young Adult Fiction, Kiki Strike, Kirsten Miller


Blogger Alice said...

Sounds cool.

I'll find out more about it, me-thinks...

8:43 AM  
Blogger Liz B said...

Thanks for the link! And I'm glad I found your blog; it'll help satisfy my living in NYC fantasies. (But all the rats in Kiki, and then in Peeps which I just read, are scaring me.)

4:49 PM  

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