Myles's Reviews > The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case

The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
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's review
Jun 30, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: kids-stuff, adventure
Read from September 26 to 27, 2011

Well, I wasn't too big of a fan of this book when I first read it, but I've kept rereading it occasionally over the years to see if I missed something. I don't think I ever have.

This first sequel to The Headless Cupid take place about a year after events of that book. David's stepmother Molly has been left a sizable amount of money from a great-uncle, but there's a catch. The money must be spent in Italy. So after some arrangements are made the Stanley family are set to spend a year in Italy! Fun right? Just think of the possibilities!

Well, Snyder didn't seem to consider those possibilities. After some sightseeing, the Stanley's settle in an old villa near Florence that has several other tenants as well.

Surely there will be some interesting characters, some sort of mystery?

No...they are mentioned, but aside from one older couple, dismissed. So why are they even in the book? Amanda does develop a crush on a boring English boy in Swiss hiking shorts though.

I won't give away how the kidnapping comes about or what happens, but I will say I am disapointed in Snyder. This is a young children's book so obviously nothing horrible is going to happen, but the core of The Headless Cupid wasn't the mystery, but the interactions between the children, particularly Amanda and David. That's what was missing here.

Amanda still has some issues to get over, but since she's given up the witchcraft bit she's just another surly 13 year old girl. Exciting. After being kidnapped she has an emotional scene with David, talking about troubles she's kept quiet since before her mother divorced her dad. But we don't get specifics, we don't get insight into her character that might make us feel for her, we just hear from David that he talked with her a lot. A lot of other scenes are treated similarly, glossed over in favor of the "action".

David made sense as a narrator in The Headless Cupid because of his good-kid reactions and interpretations of Amanda's rebellion. Here, it might have been better to switch to Amanda's perspective because David is always two steps behind what would have been interesting. David and Amanda's plot against the kidnapper's is particularly absurd as well. Even for a 12 and a 13 year old. The character of motormouth Janie with an IQ of 145 is the only one who shines.

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