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Check It Out: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

This is Tyler Nordstrom with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check It Out.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a mystery novel written by Alan Bradley and is the first book in a series that currently numbers eleven. The story takes place in 1950 in the English countryside, and the protagonist is Flavia (FLAH-VEE-UH) De Luce, an eleven-year old girl obsessed with chemistry, mischief, and eventually, sleuthing. Flavia adores her father, a WWII veteran who slaves away at his stamp collecting to distract himself from the loss of his wife, who apparently perished in a Tibetan mountain climbing expedition. While Flavia loves her father, she is constantly at war with her two older sisters, and especially resents the eldest who prides herself on being the only daughter old enough to remember their mother.

Early one morning, Flavia discovers a dead body in their front yard, and the blame is placed on her father, who is too apathetic and morose to defend his innocence. But when Flavia finds the body, a spark is lit inside her. She already knows she loves chemistry, but the sight of the corpse inspires a further fascination with putrefaction, the process of decay. Armed with a brilliant mind and fueled by a desire to vindicate her father, Flavia realizes she has both the passion and the knack for detective work.

Getting to see the world from Flavia’s perspective is delightful and intriguing, as it is sometimes characterized by the innocence and optimism of youth, while at other times it is marked by a devilish proclivity for mischief. She is brilliant, daring, and – quite funny. The author Alan Bradley does a marvelous job of creating authentic characters, as well as using refreshingly creative language.

Check out The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and the rest of the Flavia de Luce series at the Sioux City Public Library.

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Avery Brothers.

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