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Manhattan is Missing: 03/24/08
E. W. Hildick is partially responsible for why I have been keeping a list of every book I've read since 1987. He wrote memorable books but for whatever reason, didn't have a memorable name (for me). One of my all time favorite YA books is one of Hildick's: The Active-Enzyme, Lemon-Freshened Junior High School Witch (1973). I think I worked so hard on remembering the long winded title that I forgot his name. Later when I wanted to reread the book I couldn't remember the author's name and I had mangled the title so much I couldn't search by title either. Thus my need for a list of books read by title and author was realized.
Fast forward twenty-one years and 3851 books I have read a second hugely enjoyable Hildick book, Manhattan is Missing (1969). Since his name had slipped from my memory again, I would not have made the connection were it not for my list (which does include a later reread of TAELFJHSW).
Manhattan is Missing is part cultural study of the differences between Chelsea and Manhattan in 1969 and part young adult mystery. The premise is this: a British family of five sublets a Manhattan apartment while the owner is traveling to Nice. The only caveat: they must take care of Manhattan the siamese cat. Manhattan is a valuable cat and a like most siamese cats, very high strung.
When Manhattan later goes missing and a ransom note shows up, the two brothers must overcome their cultural shock to find Manhattan before she can come to harm. The three brothers team up with other children living in the apartment and neighborhood to solve the mystery.
The interactions of the Clarke family (mostly the children) with the various people they meet in Manhattan is what brings this otherwise competent mystery above the more typical child sleuth books. Hildick captures the different nuances of New York City along with the broad differences between American and British culture and language. So often these sorts of books will get the foreign culture completely wrong but not Hildick.
Besides Hildick's entertaining story, the book is peppered with illustrations by Jan Palmer. These illustrations both firmly plant the book in 1969 (see the illustration on page 8) and bring the story to life. I especially love the many drawings of Manhattan the cat (including the cover).
I highly recommend Manhattan is Missing. Look for it at your library or get a used copy online.
Thanks for your review. This book sounds great and I'm adding it to my TBR list. "
You're welcome. If you local library doesn't have it, it is readily available from a number of online used book stores."
So is he/she (the author) British or American?"
Hildick was British."