Wilma Tenderfoot wants to be a detective. When she is shipped off as a ward to Mrs. Waldock who requires Wilma to do bizarre (and often disgusting) chores with the threat of returning her to the Lowside Institute for Woeful Children and Mrs. Scratch who has no fondness for Wilma. When Wilma comes across an abandoned beagle she names Pickle you want to cheer because she has found someone to love that who loves her back wholly and unconditionally.
It turns out that Wilma’s new residence is next door to the famous detective Theodore P. Goodman. Wilma has read all of Goodman’s published work: accounts of cases he has solved and tips for being a good detective. She can–and does–quote them verbatim. Often.
When a precious jewel disappears and Theodore P. Goodman is called in on the case Wilma sees her chance to prove herself to the famous detective and convince him to take her on as an apprentice. The supporting characters are strong stock characters in a mystery: a bumbling, big-hearted Inspector, an evil street-smart villain, an outwardly cranky (but secretly loveable) housekeeper, Wilma’s horrible guardian and more. The mystery itself provides plenty of ‘red herrings’ (clues that lead you to suspect the wrong culprit) as well as suspenseful and sometimes dangerous adventure.
Wilma Tenderfoot is an engaging and entertaining mix of Oliver Twist, Sherlock Holmes and Clementine (by Sara Pennypacker). Wilma is easy to love and root for throughout her misadventures. The situations in which she finds herself are often humorous with occasional laugh-out-loud moments. This is an especially good read-aloud for grades 3-4 with a little spill-over on both sides of that, depending on the reader.
I thoroughly enjoyed Wilma Tenderfoot and the case of the Frozen Hearts and have, in fact, already grabbed the second in the series from the library. A fun combination of humor, mystery and adventure this is a superb choice as we move into summer reading as either a read-aloud or independent choice!