A BBC bLue peter top 5 favourite read
If you like puzzles and mysteries then this could be the book for you. filled with riddles and a secret code FOR YOU TO SOLVE ALONG WITH MINNIE…
Minnie is stuck babysitting her cling-on cousin, Dot, whose dad has mysteriously disappeared. Minnie does her best to find him, but would rather be solving the top secret message that her teacher has set for homework. Especially as the first one to crack the code wins a prize! But as usual everything’s stacked against her. Brainiac Jenny, the cleverest girl in the universe, wants to win the prize too. Can Minnie outwit her? Will she ever find her Uncle Jeff? And can she save Dot from being bullied by arch enemy, Terrible Trevor?
HERE IS THE MIND-BOGGLING CODE THAT MINNIE HAS TO SOLVE…
And here she is solving it undercover in her raft bed… Her glow in the dark alien pen helps her to read and write undercover in bed.
I cannot believe it, but for the first time ever I spookily have homework that I actually like. And being a secret undercover puzzler, I am hoping for once to beat Brainiac Jenny, the cleverest girl in the whole of the universe (and my class).
TUESDAY AFTER SCHOOL
Dot tells everyone she is five and three-quarters, which is really and truly only five, and as I am ten (and eleven-twelfths), it is not exactly overly cool to have a whimpering snip of a cousin acting like she’s my shadow. But that’s what she does. She clings to my side like a fridge to a magnet and whenever I manage to peel her away she simply springs back on.
I used to only see her for birthdays, but 17 days, five hours and ten minutes ago (not that I’m counting), she moved into Wayne Parker’s old flat in Block A, Arthurs Way. Sadly I live in Block B, Arthurs Way, so now I live one block from a cling-on and I have to see her all the time. She is endlessly sniffing and goes on and on about her old house and her old school and her old friends and her old bedroom. But most of all she goes on about missing her mum, Aunty Valerie, who has gone to France and left Dot with my Uncle Jeff.
I do feel the teeniest bit sorry for Dot, but much more ENORMOUSLY sorry for ME because Uncle Jeff always has to work late, which leaves me as chief babysitter. And I am probably about to pull out my hair because for the eighth torturous night in a row, that is what I am doing now… when I should be solving a code.
Dot is fidgeting on our sofa, and she is upside down with her head on the seat where her bottom should be, and her legs are climbing up the back.
This is annoying as I am sitting the right way up, but then I try it and it is peculiarly good at making the TV a lot more interesting.
Dot giggles when I tell her this and says, “I love your pink sofa, Minnie because I love pink. And your flat is just like a
And this is true, because Mum’s speciality is painting our furniture in need-your-sunglasses dazzling colours. Like the bright yellow sideboard with no handles so that it’s nearly impossible to get inside, but it is particularly good at holding the telly. And the hanging dining table that is strung from the ceiling in the corner of our sitting-room on four long ropes. Mum has painted it bright orange, with pink spots where the plates should sit, and when you put your elbows on it, it greedily swings your dinner away. Dad says it is a good-manners-teaching table, because all good children should know never to put their elbows on a table.
Dot and I are still upside down and trying to watch an art programme and the presenter is making a giant picture of a footballer out of football socks and shirts.
Dot gets fed up and sniffs, “I don’t do football, Minnie.”
“It isn’t football, Dot,” I say. “It is making a picture, which just so happens to be about football.”
“I don’t do football pictures,” sniffs Dot. “Especially Wayne Parker’s football pictures in my horrid bedroom. It isn’t fair. Dad said he would paint my bedroom pink, but he never has any time.”
And all of this is non-fibbing true, and for once I am actually on Dot’s side, because Dot’s new bedroom is totally blue and a shrine to football which Wayne Parker left behind. And her walls and curtains say CHELSEA FC FOREVER and for the zillionth time today I wish Uncle Jeff wouldn’t work so late and then he’d have time to paint Dot’s room. This might stop Dot moaning so much and I wouldn’t have to keep babysitting and I might have time to work on the secret code. And most important of all – I could spend time with Frankie Minelli, my best-ever friend.
But I don’t tell Dot this and, fed up with football pictures, she stomps off in MY best boots, to help Mum in the kitchen.
Dad comes in and I tell him, “Dot is totally getting on my nerves.” And I don’t know if it’s because I’m upside down but it just slips out before I can think. “And Frankie says Aunty Valerie must be horrid as she’s gone to France and left Dot, and all the French eat is frogs’ legs and snails.”
Dad looks serious for a very rare moment and says, “Aunty Valerie isn’t horrid, it’s just that it’s hard to be a grown-up sometimes. Especially a grown-up with not much money.”
“But what about eating snails?”
“They’re delicious,” he grins. “It’s the garlic that does it. And that reminds me. What d’you call a slug in a crash helmet?”
I refuse to answer. But he tells me anyway, “A snail of course!” And he is just about to tell me another with, “And what’s the difference between a snail and a gobstopper?” when thankfully…
“Tea time!” hollers Mum, as she wheels in Spike, my one-year-old wiggly brother, in his tiger-striped highchair.
“…You can’t chew on a gobstopper!” says dad.
And excuse me while I might be sick, because if it’s not stomach-churning bad hearing Dad’s jokes, or facing Mum’s healthy option tea of nut rissoles and easy-peasy-cheesy lentils, then it must be stomach-churning bad to chew garlic snails!
Dot sits next to me, and stares at her plate, and she is so upset by what’s for tea that she slumps her elbows on to the table, and forgets it’s what all good children must never do. The table swings her plate away and Dot slips and nearly lands with her head in her food. Dad laughs, but my plate has nearly tipped in my lap and now I’m not in the friendliest mood.
Dot sniff, “I don’t do easy-peasy-cheesy lentils.”
And neither, it seems, does tadpole Spike, because he’s wriggling as usual and spitting out lentils as fast as Mum can shovel them in.
The table stops swinging and somehow I find myself grumbling to Dot, “Nobody willingly does ANY sort of lentils, easy-peasy-cheesy or not! But lentils are fibrously better than snails, which is probably what your mum is eating because that’s what they eat in France!”
“Minnie!” say Mum and Dad together.
And I know I’ve done wrong, so I say, “Peculiarly, snails are delicious, Dot – it’s the garlic that does it, so you should be happy and not sad.”
But Dot is blubbing and Dad marches me off to my room and says, “YOU might be crying if your mum was in France. We must all be trying to help each other.”
And I want to say that Dot is trying. VERY TRYING! But Dad’s lecturing me with, “It’s a difficult time for Dot right now, what with having a new home and a new school. And Uncle Jeff worries she’s missing her mum.”
And now I feel bad and promise I will try to be nicer to Dot, so Dad says I can go back to my lentils, and I wonder if this is the best reward for someone who’s trying to be good.
This is my-try-to-be-nice-to-Dot plan: after tea I let her show me her wobbly tooth. Then I challenge her to Snakes and Ladders and let her win, even though she goes up the snakes and down the ladders. And then we play with Wanda Wellingtons, my totally loopy, fluffy Jack Russell, and when Mum suggests that she might like a walk, I very nicely let Dot hold the lead while we make plans for her new bedroom. Dot wants a princess bed with a pink eiderdown (which is just a duvet if you’re not a princess), and pink everywhere you can think of, like even the carpet beneath the bed and the insides of her wardrobe. But I say purple would probably, definitely be better, with lavender walls and lilac carpet and purple netting hanging from the ceiling from a sparkling crown, to drape, princess-like, either side of her bed.
“I don’t do purple,” sniffs Dot, unimpressed.
“Oh,” I sigh. “Well I’ll probably think up something better as soon as we get back home.”
However, the very moment I kick off my boots and sit back down on the pink sofa, with pink spotty cushions, all I can think of is pink. So we play HANGMAN and Dot hangs me because she cannot spell and she doesn’t understand what hangman is. And after an hour of I SPY, where Dot thinks that ceiling begins with S, and every other word is M E (which stands for Mrs Elliott, Dot’s teacher, who has never been in our flat, let alone twenty-seven times in one evening), and I am just trying to explain, “It is probably best to think up new words, Dot, and preferably of something I can see,” when FINALLY Uncle Jeff comes to my rescue.
He is puffing, having run up the stairs to the flat, and although he is always in jogging bottoms he is not exactly the jogging type. But he is definitely a much better joker than Dad. He smiles at us from his fat pink face and says, “Sorry I’m late, but I could have been later… so technically I’m still early! How’s my little Polka Dotty?” (He always calls Dot’Polka Dotty’, not because she likes polka dots, but because a polka is a kind of dance and Dotty is a kind of dancer.)
“OK,” sniffs Dot, as he twirls her about like a mad circus pony. And then they bow politely and trot out the door with Dot shouting, “Bye, Minnie. See you tomorrow.”
“Bye,” I sigh as I look at my watch and see it is almost nine o’clock. Mum says it is time for bed, but I just have a moment to ring Frankie and complain that Dot has only just gone.
“For someone so tiny Dot is proving a HUGE nuisance,” says Frankie.
“GINORMOUS,” I grumble. “But it isNERS4â4r hard to say more when Mum is stood over me tapping her watch. I just manage to ask Frankie if she’s cracked the code.
Frankie laughs and says, “No way, Poodle Noodle!”
And, with that good news, it is time for bed.
a review by Steph Martin, age 11 yrs. (her grammar and spellings)…
under cover puzzler, starring minnie piper is the first of 3 faberoony books written by caroline,i fell in love with it and i don’t think there will be anyone who doesn’t totally adore this book! minnie piper is an under cover puzzler and loves solving mysteries and when her funky teacher mr impey gives the class a strange code to crack for their homework, minnie gets straight onto it!-the fist person or pair to crack it first win a super cool prize!Minnie and her best friend frankie try to solve the puzzle together and are desperate to beat their arch rival the brainiac jenny, but the only problem is, minnies’ cling-on cousin dotty is bugging her again. dotts a really funny character and probably my favourite because she does the weidest things and asks the weirdest questions! dots mum, auntie val, has gone to live in france leaving passionate dancer dot, miserable! minnie gets suspicious of frankie making a new friend and wonders whats going on-only to find that dot has a very special surprise (even i didn’t have a clue what it could be!) i love all the super cool doodles in the book and the funkylicious words caroline uses! i reccomend this book to any one who loves a mystery and anyone who loves being crazy! under cover puzzler really gets you thinking and you want to try and crack the code too!