Monday, September 26, 2016

MMGM: FRAMED (A T.O.A.S.T. Mystery)

I picked up this story because I have a soft spot for art history mysteries. Chalk it up to hours listening to my art history professor wax eloquent about Gothic arches, but I certainly would've been an art history major--if my first love hadn't been writing. 

FRAMED  joins the likes of CHASING VERMEER, EDDIE RED AND THE MUSEUM MILE and UNDER THE EGG; it’s a rich art history mystery with fun characters and an intriguing plot line.

A book that will appeal to kids and grownups alike!

Synopsis (an excerpt from Amazon):

Florian is twelve years old and has just moved to Washington. He’s learning his way around using TOAST, which stands for the Theory of All Small Things. It’s a technique he invented to solve life’s little mysteries such as: where to sit on the on the first day of school, or which Chinese restaurant has the best eggrolls.

But when he teaches it to his new friend Margaret, they uncover a mystery that isn’t little. In fact, it’s HUGE, and it involves the National Gallery, the FBI, and a notorious crime syndicate known as EEL.

Can Florian decipher the clues and finish his homework in time to help the FBI solve the case?

 What to like:

 1.  A smart, quirky kid as the main character. Of course, it’s every kid’s fantasy to actually work for the FBI! Florian isn’t your typical kid. He’d lived most of his life in Europe and has a Holmes-like eye for noticing seemingly insignificant details.

2.  A great boy/girl friendship. While I tend to think boy/girl friendships don’t always seem realistic in MG, this one really worked. Margaret’s sensible nature was an excellent foil to Florian’s quick mind. Their dialogue was always snappy and fun.

3.  Two intact families.  I thought it was great that both Florian and Margaret’s families were intact, supportive and loving—and it was nice seeing grownups respecting the kids and their ideas.

4.  Insider details about FBI training and art museums and art theft detection. Part of the fun of reading books like this is learning about what goes on at FBI training or what being undercover really entails. I loved how Florian’s trainer was petite but tough!

5. An open ending. I cheered for the open ending on this mystery--which means they’ll be more adventures with Florian and Margaret!

14-year-old boy's take: "This is hard to put down!"

If you loved mysteries about art history or anything about the FBI (think SPY MICE by Heather Vogel Frederick but without animals), you need to check out FRAMED. I’m always excited to find more smartly written, intriguing mysteries like this!

And if you do pick it up, I dare you to try not to see the significance of small things!

Have you read any good mysteries lately? 

(This post contains an Amazon affiliate link, only because it's easier for me to post book covers that way. Thank you for your support!)

To check out more Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog. 


  1. This sounds like a really unique story with the art history and FBI. I think the FBI part of this will really appeal to boys..

  2. Your character descriptions really sold me on reading this one. I've added it to my list.

  3. Going to add this as a possibility for my nephew and niece. Thanks!

    I loved art history in school, too, and wanted to minor it. Problem was, I had to actually take art classes as well - you know, painting, sculpture, etc - and I knew that wasn't going to work. At all. :)

  4. Sounds wonderful and exciting! Love the 14yr-old's POV. I'm a huge history buff, but also dabble in art. I'm sure I'd love this. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. The kids in my class would love this book! I'll have to pick up a copy for my classroom library.

  6. Oooo. Sign me up. Love this theme and genre. Thanks. Love 3!!!

  7. It is nice to see whole families. Seems everyone has to come from a broken family.

  8. Wow! I really like the this mystery. Great review. I especially liked your discussion of the characters. Makes me want to read it! And, I think my granddaughter (10) would too.

  9. i do love a good mystery and art history so will definitely be looking for this one. Thanks for telling me about it.

  10. I'm always looking for good MG mysteries! Thanks for sharing this one!

  11. I'm always looking for good MG mysteries! Thanks for sharing this one!

  12. Wow, amazing review. Never have heard of this book, but I'll definitely check it out. Hopefully I, a 14 year old, will be like that 14 year old, and proclaim how hard it is to put down.

  13. Gosh, I never thought you could interest me in a story like this, but you totally did. Very cool!

  14. Wow! I hadn't heard of this. Interestingly, there was another MG called FRAMED in 2006, written by Frank Cottrell Boyce (who wrote MILLIONS). It was also about art but less of a mystery and more of a humorous tale about a small Welsh village, which temporarily houses famous paintings from the National Gallery due to flooding in London. There was an attempted art heist in that book too.

    1. I will have to check out the other FRAMED. I loved MILLIONS.