Hi and thank you for visiting.
I’ve had a love affair with writing, riddles and poetry since I was a small child. I wrote poetry from the age of 7 and went on to become the Oxford Birthday Poet in my twenties.
I solved my first cryptic puzzle age 8 when my teacher, (the real-life Mr. Impey!) hid something behind the classroom clock. He set a secret coded message for us to find it and I won! I then won a Blue Peter badge for making the most words out of Blue Peter (Blue Peter is a TV programme in the UK and Undercover Puzzler went on to become a Blue Peter Top 5 Read!) I loved reading and puzzling and guessed other children would too. That’s why I wrote books for children and the Minnie Piper books contain lots of riddles and poems! I hope you enjoy reading about Minnie and that you might try deciphering the puzzles yourself.
I visit lots of schools and festivals and children always want to know if I always wanted to be a writer. Well I always wrote but I had no idea that writing could be a job! I’ve had lots of other interesting jobs too including a mural artist like Minnie’s mum and a waitress in a pizza parlour like Minelli’s Deli. My husband is Italian and cooks lots of spaghetti! I also love motorbikes just like Minnie’s dad and do yoga like Minnie’s mum.
I still dream of being lots of other things. I never stop dreaming. To be a writer you need to dream.
Minnie Piper wanted to know lots of things about me too. I’ll hand you over to her…
Very peculiarly Mr Impey, my new teacher, keeps setting me homework that I actually like. This is a miracle because I never like homework, but our first assignment was a top-secret message that you needed to unscrabble to win a prize and was my best homework ever. Now we have another task: to investigate the totally mysterious Caroline Juskus. And guess what? The winner will get to have their secret snoopings printed on her website. I am going to try nail-bitingly hard because Gran says I will actually like Caroline quite a lot as apparently she likes codes like me. I have decided I am going to e-mail her and pretend to be her number one fan, but really I am going to be totally sneaky, and be Minnie Piper, undercover puzzler.
This is totally top-secret so do not tell Trevor or Tiffany or Jenny, or even Frankie Minelli…
Dear Caroline, Do you
- live in a ginormous house like Frankie Minelli?
- live in an every-room-is-next-to-each-other kind of a flat like me?
Dear Minnie, How lovely to hear from you. I live in a nice house in Gloucestershire and it has a banana plant growing in it’s garden and inside it has a need-your-sunglasses bright pink settee and a dazzling orange table that sadly has legs and not ropes.
Dear Caroline, I do not have a banana plant, but I do have a totally loopy Jack Russell and her name is Wanda Wellingtons. Do you have any loopy pets?
Dear Minnie, I think I have the loopiest cat on the whole of the planet. Whenever I sit to read a book she jumps on my lap and twirls about like she is trying to do a pirouette, and then she rubs her nose across the pages as if she is trying to sniff-read. When I despair, and set about doing some yoga instead, she weaves her hairiness around my ankles in a very tickly manner.
Dear Caroline, I don’t think Wanda is into sniff-reading, but I think that I am going to try it as I’m really into books. What is your favouritest book ever?
Dear Minnie, My favourite book ever is Revolting Rhymes by the poetic and otherwise genius author, the fabulous Mr Roald Dahl. I would very much have liked to have written it with him, whilst nibbling on curry and other delights, and sharing top-secret writerly tips.
Dear Caroline, I also like to doodle poems, especially when undercover in bed. Where do you like to doodle yours?
Dear Minnie, I am especially fond of doodling on my dazzling orange table, but lately I have taken to hiding away in my old greenhouse and now, instead of growing chillies and tomatoes I grow lots of stories. I particularly like writing straight after breakfast as it gets me out of the washing up, but I usually stop for some cat-tickling yoga then I’m back to my keyboard in my once-was-a-greenhouse-and-now-is-not.
Dear Caroline, Keyboards and computers can sometimes be especially good at helping you solve puzzles and codes. Do you ever do puzzling on computers?
Dear Minnie, My favourite computer puzzling is online Sudoku. It is all about having to fit the numbers 1-9 into lots of little boxes.
Dear Caroline, I am not very good with numbers though I do now know my nines times table. I would never like to be a teacher of maths, but I would like to be a spy on a mission.
Dear Minnie, Numbers are fun, but being a spy is probably a whole lot better. I can never make up my mind what I want to be, because how can you know, when you don’t know all the things that you actually can be? For example, there is probably someone who spends their days inventing the fizziest sherbet and I think I should like to be doing that. But if I was, then I couldn’t be doing other things, like inventing houses powered by wind power. There are so many things that I want to be that it is much too hard to decide on just one.
Dear Caroline, What is your favouritist food ever?
Dear Minnie, I like to nibble spicily-hot curries. I could eat curry for breakfast, dinner and tea, supper and lunch and all the snacks that there are in between. And when I wake up in the middle of the night then I’m straight downstairs for a spoonful of curry. In fact, sometimes I think that the reason I like Roald Dahl so much is that his name sounds like, and is an anagram of, dhal, which is a yummy dish of easy-peasy-spicy lentil curry!
Dear Caroline, I am not keen on any sort of lentils, easy-peasy-spicy or not, but I very much like the colour purple.
Dear Minnie, Me too. When I was a girl I had purple curtains and a purple pelmet with white pompom fringing. But now my best-ever colour is orange. As well as having an orange table, I have an orange chair that swivels me about and I can spin it to look at good things on the telly, or when it is boring and full of news that nobody on the planet could want to hear, then I can magically spin the other way and look at the garden instead. I also own an orange washing-up bowl, which makes cleaning dishes a lot more fun, especially when wearing my orange dress.
Dear Caroline, We have been learning about Enigma at school and it is a very clever code-cracking machine, and being a code-cracking kind of a wiz I would very much like to meet it’s inventor and ask him how he did it. Gran says she would rather meet Johnny Sprightly. How about you?
Dear Minnie, I think I would like to meet Johnny Sprightly, but I would most like to meet Mahatma Gandhi. I would give him a hug and an extra-big thank you for being so clever, not in a code-cracking Enigma way, but in a simple peace-bringing, humble kind of way. And then I would ask him to help me finish my revolting rhyme whilst eating a bowl of Roald Lentil-Curry. I think he would probably like that.
Dear Caroline, Gran tells me that your book is all about a girl who solves a code, which totally spookily is just like me!
Dear Minnie, Me too! How spookily peculiar! When I was your age my teacher set us a code at school and I cracked it first before anyone else and won a silver coin. I used it to buy a sherbet fountain with a liquorice straw, and lots and lots of sherbet spaceships.
Dear Caroline, Is this why you wrote a book about codes?
Dear Minnie, Have you heard of an author called Kit Williams who wrote a book called Masquerade? It was a book of clues to a real-life buried treasure of a jewel-encrusted, golden hare. Lots of people tried to find it, including me, and it was even on the news the day it was found (which was one time when I didn’t swivel my orange chair away to look at the garden instead). If you haven’t heard about it, then maybe you heard of another book called The Da Vinci Code? It is mind-boggling brilliant and is full of clues to an almost impossibly-difficult code. When I finished it, it made me think that it would be nice to set a code for children, especially one that if they were clever and computer-savvy, and had puzzle-solving kinds of minds, they might even solve before an adult. This is always especially good. Why not try it and give the code to an adult you know, maybe a parent or teacher at school, and with only Mr Impey’s clues see if they can solve it?!
Dear Caroline, I think I will give it to Gran to try because Gran is into crosswords and things, but most of all she loves anagrams where you have to make words out of jumbled up letters.
Dear Minnie, I am not overly fond of crosswords because I am not clever enough to do really hard ones and this makes me cross. And the easy ones are so silly that even Terrible Trevor could do them and this makes me even crosser. No wonder they are called CROSS words. It is because they make you cross. I do, however, love anagrams (Dahl and dhal!) and watching Countdown on the telly. Tell Gran that you can make a 4 letter word out of ANAGRAM and spookily it is GRAN!
Dear Caroline, I was going to ask you more things, but right now I really want to go and read your book and talk to Gran and challenge her to the code.
Dear Minnie, It has been fun talking to you. Good luck with the code cracking. I shall keep my fingers tightly crossed that you are going to enjoy it.
PS I also hope you win your latest homework challenge and get to have all your secret snoopings published on this website.
Dear Caroline, How did you manage to puzzle what I was secretly doing? I thought I was being undercover!
Dear Minnie, I’m a secret undercover puzzler too! But don’t tell Terrible-Trevor.