Encyclopedia Blonde
The Olsen Twins are on the Case

Photo of The Case of the Flapper Napper 
Gold lettering! The Olsen twins in flapper outfits! Fireworks over a distant harbor! How could I avoid judging The New Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley - The Case of the Flapper 'Napper by its cover? I had no way of knowing that this book wouldn't involve any fireworks, literally or metaphorically.

Parents need not fear that their pre-teens are reading about an actual kidnapping. The author makes it clear on the third page that the Flapper who gets 'napped is just a cat. The historical implications of the cover aren't altogether false though -- the author manages to work in a grand total of three references to the 1920's, including the informative gem, "The Charleston was a dance everyone did back then."

In between those rare educational tidbits we meet the suspects in the cat-napping: A creepy man, a very guilty-looking dog (although how a dog could have committed the crime is never quite explained), a bumbling boy detective, and a spoiled little girl. Before you start wondering about character development and motives, it's important to remember that Flapper 'Napper is aimed at the elementary school crowd. This book is an easy read in every possible way. There aren't any big words, and the text is in a font so large you could read it from across the room. Every concept is carefully explained, as in this example from page 64: "'Framed' is a detective word. It means making someone look guilty."

Collectible photo from the book 
Even with these detailed explanations, this book somehow still managed to confuse me. I found myself mixing up Mary-Kate and Ashley even though they were just characters on the page. (Wait, is Ashley supposed to be the smart one?) Also, a good deal of the plot seemed disturbingly similar to a mystery I wrote in 6th grade. The only difference? My story involved a creepy man and a kidnapped dog. Wow, I should see if I still have a copy -- maybe I have a future in writing pre-teen novels. My 6th grade mystery had some major holes in the plot, but that didn't stop HarperCollins from publishing Flapper 'Napper!

The most fascinating section of this book was at the very end. After the story was over, I found pages and pages of advertisements for Mary-Kate and Ashley products: several book series, a new straight-to-video movie called Our Lips are Sealed, their "Magical Mystery Mall" PlayStation game (also available for Game Boy), the Mary-Kate and Ashley Celebrity Premiere Fashion Dolls, an invitation to join them on a cruise, a bunch of their music CD's, and of course, information about their website. Their mystery-solving skills may never rival Encyclopedia Brown's, but when it comes to marketing, these girls have it all figured out. -- Lisa Beebe

Want more Mary-Kate and Ashley?
Read our review of Holiday in the Sun.
Find Olsen twins stuff at amazon.com:
The Case of the Flapper Napper
Our Lips are Sealed
Magical Mystery Mall PlayStation Game
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