Shoe #41 by Jaanus Vaiksoo is a new addition to the series that follows the adventures of 12-year-old Paul Fifth and his best friends, Minna and Ats. As the kids spend their summer in the newly purchased country-house of their friend Hugo Bachman and his fiancé Katja, they start to investigate the curious case of poisoned bees in the village. Paul’s attention to detail when searching for clues, his skill of deduction, help from the villagers and his friends, as well as a few lucky coincidences are all instrumental in solving the case and bringing the perpetrator to justice.

The author seamlessly weaves a touching side-plot to this criminal tale that introduces young readers to the dark history of World War II. The kids find a series of letters in an abandoned farm in the village. Written by a boy their age deported to Siberia and addressed to his friend back home, these letters give insight into the everyday life of children affected by the Soviet regime of terror. Both educational and interesting, this side-plot helps give a relatable face to events mostly known to today’s kids through history textbooks. Vaiksoo has managed to write about this painful part of Estonian history in a manner that is not too heavy for a young reader but also does not trivialize the events that affected many people. This valuable side-plot gives a needed depth to the mostly humorous events depicted in the book and provides the most emotional scenes of the story.

As the latest edition to the series that concentrates on the same set of characters as those before, the story does not necessarily require the reader to be familiar with previous books. However, one would definitely understand the connection between the characters and the friendship dynamics of the younger and the older characters better by reading the previous books. A humorous side-character worth a mention, is the beloved family dog Valter whose inner monologue about the confusing behavior of humans is a real treat to readers.

All in all, Shoe #41 provides an enjoyable reading experience to young reader, which is all together interesting and touching, educational and entertaining. 


KING #41

(SHOE #41 )

Ärkel 2022, 190 pp

ISBN 9789949727261