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Two Black girls in Georgian breeches and frock take notes and use a magnifying glass. Backdrop is Kenwood House.

by J. T. Williams  

with illustrations by Simone Douglas

 

Longlisted Little Rebels Award 2024

 

“All were paintings just like these. A pale white person, painted whiter than white, dressed up in their finest silks and satins, standing proud at the centre of the canvas. And then, down below, off to the side or in the corner of the painting, a young Black boy or girl, dressed in opulent clothes…In every painting, the Black child was unnamed. In every painting, they were pushed down in to the corner…These paintings filled my lungs with leaden weight.”

 

Lizzie Sancho and Dido Belle are back in a new Georgian London mystery. This time they’re on a desperate quest to uncover stolen works of art and to sabotage dastardly poisonings. Blocking their way are the Bow Street Runners, masonic MPs and the terrifying Brotherhood of Man.

 

Another fantastic addition to the UK canon of middle grade detective fiction. This series is shot through with tantalising nuggets of ‘real’ UK Black History which spin the reader out to further research and reading. Here, the pacy plot unravels against a rich background of Black emancipation, resistance and rebellion, from enslaved people breaking for freedom to the organised Sons and Daughters of Africa to a referencing out to rebellions in the Caribbean. And, throughout the novel, there is an art history critique which we’ve never seen in a children’s book: how the ‘conventions’ of Western portraiture placed anonymous Black models in such a way as to exalt and elevate a primary white sitter. The author’s back note elaborates on this thread and also points to a movement of African heritage which seeks to redress the balance, re-centring Black people in classic portraiture.

 

A well-layered plot which also works well for a range of different reading abilities and interests through its mixed format, including letters, newspaper articles, case notes, diary entries and illustrations.  Age 8-12, Paperback 312pp

 

Themes: Black History

THE LIZZIE AND BELLE MYSTERIES: PORTRAITS AND POISON

SKU: 3343
£7.99 Regular Price
£7.19Sale Price
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