In Daisy and the Missing Mona Lisa, by J.T. Allen, Daisy’s newest misadventure begins with an invitation from Felix, her aunt’s friend and a former spy, to visit his chateau in the Loire. During her stay, our heroine explores the historic town of Chinon in the daytime, dives into a Proust novel at night, encounters a ghost and two ginormous pigs, and helps Felix organize his massive art collection. Upon her departure after two weeks, Daisy receives a copy of the Mona Lisa from Felix, as thanks for helping him. But this Mona isn’t just any copy, it’s one of two flawless forgeries created to confuse the Nazis during their search for the real one in World War II.
Daisy returns with the painting to her aunt’s apartment in Paris, to find that her friend Lucia Sarir, now a teen model, is in France to audition for the spring runway shows. Lucia is eager to “meet” Daisy’s Mona, and thinks it might be the real thing. When Felix suddenly dies, his family is after her, convinced she stole the painting that turns out to be worth a fortune, real or not. Daisy, followed by her loyal sidekicks, makes her way around her chaotic world full of scheming adults in a search for the truth.
J.T. Allen presents an engaging mystery about a fearless young woman with a lively personality that any girl would love to call her friend. The author has done a wonderful job of telling this story from a first-person point of view. Daisy’s narration and her conversations with others are spot-on to convey how a girl her age actually speaks and thinks. She tells her story as if she’s speaking to a friend, making her a more relatable character, and her adventures seem more real and entertaining.
I did my best to appear skeptical. I know I’m twelve and supposed to be all jaded and everything, but this sounded like a fairy princess castle set in a magic forest with every other fairy tale thing going for it. And Chinon – the town where Joan of Arc actually met King Charles the Whatever and told him, “..give me an army.” And the king looked at this golden-haired teenager and said,” Awesome, go for it.” When does that ever happen anymore?” (Page 8)
Learning about and exploring new places in a foreign country alongside Daisy with her vivid, humorous descriptions, is just one of the things I enjoyed about this book. There is a helpful glossary of French words and phrases in the back of the book, because the French language is sprinkled throughout the story, reminding readers of the setting. The interactions of the characters were often entertaining and they helped to move the story forward. Daisy is older than she was in her last book, and I noticed that her maturity is reflected in her own interactions with others and the words she uses, being clever and even sarcastic, without ever being rude.
Daisy and the Missing Mona Lisa might officially be middle-grade fiction, but I feel that the story would also be enjoyed by older children and adults, too.
I am 15 years old and in tenth grade. I have six younger siblings, and when I'm not playing with them or homeschooling, I enjoy reading, drawing, practicing piano, and talking about stories with my friends.