Daisy and the Missing Mona Lisa

Daisy and the Missing Mona Lisa

A Daisy Tannenbaum Misadventure
Published by Sumus Press
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Pick me up off the Louvre floor as I read what just a few early reviewers are saying about Daisy and the Missing Mona Lisa! Read on for an excerpt too! 

“Echoes both The Da Vinci Code and a cozy French mystery…Rich with mystery and family secrets, this book has an unexpected premise that will keep readers engaged while they learn about both World War II history and French culture in the modern day.” —Mary R. Lanni, MLIS
“Filled with action-packed moments, insights and revelations, and powered by a girl determined to solve a mystery, Daisy and The Missing Mona Lisa is replete with atmospheric and emotional connection that makes for a story hard to put down. —D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“Daisy is clever and resourceful…she reminds me of Nancy Drew [and] a children’s version of a Dan Brown book, full of action and running and chasing and thefts and danger. What kid wouldn’t love a book like that? —Bargain Sleuth Reviews

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 4, when Daisy visits Aunt Mill's friend Felix at his château outside the town of Chinon, France, in the Loire Valley. The château meets all Daisy's expectations: old paintings, old furniture, creaky floors, even a wolf in the woods who howls at night. Felix is busy sorting papers and art objects in preparation for selling the place and in the process Daisy hears stories about Felix’s ancestors. In the daytime, the château seems like a fairytale castle to Daisy, but at night it takes on a more haunted aspect. 


The very weird night took place the second week into my stay, when I’d almost gotten used to how creepy everything upstairs looked and sounded in the dark. Okay, so don’t laugh, but the worst part about the red room, and the whole second floor really, is that they used bedpans. 

According to Felix, when he was very young, every guest at the château had their own maid or manservant and part of their job was to empty a bedpan that was in each room so that the gentleman or lady didn’t have to go down the hall to the bathroom. This was because there were no bathrooms— like ever—from the time of knights with swords and ladies in cone hats to the time of white wigs and poofy skirts, right to the time of cigarette holders and waxy mustaches. After World War I though, when all the manservants died in the trenches, and all the lady’s maids went off to work in factories, some forward-thinking relative of Felix decided to give indoor plumbing a try. So, at great expense, a “water closet” was installed at the end of the hall. 

An additional problem was the creaky floors, eerie winds howling both outside and inside the house, not to mention cold air that would come out of nowhere and breathe down your neck as you walked down the hall. Add the occasional wolf howl and shadows that moved around for no reason, and leaving your room to pee at night—a definite no. 

But some nights you just have to go. So down the hall I crept. 

The worst part? Paintings. 

In the daytime, the ancestor paintings were creepy enough, but at night they watched you, or you thought they did, and the only way to make sure they didn’t watch you was to look them in the eye every time you walked past them. Some were even painted so it looked like their eyes followed you. 

And then—mirrors. There were six in the hallway because, well, posh people liked to look at themselves I guess, but at night you glanced into each one as you went by to make sure only you returned your gaze and not some ghost. Made in the times when only aristocrats could afford them, the old mirrors had warped glass so they didn’t reflect directly back at you, or worse, distorted your face. A few times I’d made it into the bathroom only to be too scared to go back. Even though I’d just come down the hall on the way there, I didn’t trust the ancestors to stay where they were, or to stay out of the mirrors when I looked. But it was a meat freezer in the bathroom and impossible to spend the night, and beside the plumbing made weird noises too. 

So, on the very weird night, I gave myself a look in the mirror, told myself, okay, you fought off a shark* so you can handle this, flipped off the light, walked out, and headed down the hall. I checked painting one. Creepy, but normal creepy. I kept going. I checked picture two on the other side. Standard creepy. The floor creaked below my feet. Just me, I said, totally normal. I checked painting three, lady with big eyebrows and ruby necklace. Weird-but-normal creepy. Then—bang of door blowing open! Icy breath on my neck! I spun around and looked down the hall. Nothing. I mean nothing but the normal creepy things normally there— Rococo commodes, Jingdezhen vases, whatever. I told myself to keep my croutons together and turned to my room. As I did, I glanced at the mirror at the opposite end of the hall and there was someone in it—who wasn’t me. 

Felix?” I squealed.  

No answer. I pivoted around. Nobody there. I shot my eyes back to the mirror. Nobody there either. Scalp crackling, I ran for my room. 

Stupidest thing in the world, when you think about it, to run to a room where you couldn’t lock the door and the only way out was to throw open the second story windows and leap into a moat. I dove under the duvet, wondering if I did leap out the window, would there be crocodiles in the moat? 

In winter. In France.

So, yeah, not exactly rational, but maybe I knew in some lizard-brain way that I hadn’t really seen anything. Maybe I’d been half asleep and half dreaming. And if not, if it was a ghost, maybe the ghost wouldn’t bother me. Because why would it? And if it was going to, how could it really bother me because it was a ghost and ghosts couldn’t pick up a chair and, like, brain you with it, could they? Could they? Once my heart stopped banging like a two-bell alarm clock, I felt, no kidding, like I had to pee again. 

Daylight took forever to arrive. And suffice to say, I peed downstairs in the bathroom next to the kitchen, while Maelle, the château’s cook, banged around in the kitchen, making breakfast. After scarfing a croissant and gulping some warm milk, I felt much better. 

I plopped down next to Felix on the couch in the front room as he sipped his coffee. 

Felix, were you upstairs last night.”
In the hallway, near the door to the old tower.”
Of course not. Did you see something?”
I don’t know. I mean—”
He waited.
I saw a person in the mirror, behind me, near the door to the tower.
What kind of personMan or woman?”
I, uh—man I guess.”
It seemed dumb as I was saying it, in the light of day, but Felix pressed for details. He asked about the time of night (past midnight) and if I’d heard any other noises during the night (about a billion). He suggested I sleep downstairs, if I desired, saying there was no reason to lose sleep, and that he would ask Maelle to prepare a room next to his near the kitchen. 

Do you believe in ghosts?” I asked.
Of course,” he said.
I’d been hoping he would say something reassuring like my dad, something like, “ghosts don’t exist any more than unicorns and giants and are the creations of human minds for approximately similar reasons.” 

After a moment Felix continued, “But there are all kinds of ghosts, and for the most part they move among us continually, unseen, day and night, never really mixing with us, and with very little desire to do so. I’m not sure why exactly. For instance, I’ve often wanted to see my mother, in these last few days especially, having read so many of her letters. And yet she has not appeared, not even once.” 

You think it might have been her in the mirror?”
Not from what you described.”
He handed me a file of papers to burn. That was all he seemed to want to say. While I burned paper, Felix shuffled into his study to bundle up pages for me to make copies in town. On the way home I noticed the weird car following me. 

Can ghosts drive cars? 

That afternoon, Maelle set out an “English tea” for us. The cute sandwiches, warm madeleines, and chamomile tea took my mind off (maybe) being followed and (maybe) seeing a ghost. While we were sipping, Felix said, “I found something you might like to see.” He handed me a leather-covered album of black and white photos, the kind of book where each photo is pasted in with black paper corners, with handwritten captions naming the people in the photos and the year it was taken. “My mother put this together sometime between the wars. She got her first camera, a Minigraph, around 1920 and never stopped taking pictures.” 

The front pages had views of the château and formal gardens, with geometric hedges and rows of flowers. All that was gone now, transformed into pastures. Other photos showed Felix as a child and his mother in all kinds of dresses and hats. There were party pictures with people in masks, and two girls in white frocks poling a skiff in the moat, and maids working in the kitchen, looking startled that someone had wandered in with a camera, and pictures of horsemen and horsewomen sitting very straight in their saddles, and more pictures of men in tuxes and women in wispy dresses, drinking cocktails in the very room where we sat. 

I pointed to one picture of the upstairs hallway, each door with a pair of shoes outside. “What’s with the shoes?” 

He looked over, “if you stayed the weekend and didn’t bring your valet or lady’s maid, you could leave your shoes in the hallway and the butler would come by and make sure your shoes got cleaned and polished by morning.” 

The final pages held a section of formal portraits. About to close the album, I locked eyes on a studio print of a young man in a suit and high collar with a watch chain in his vest. He had a thin nose, angular chin and cheeks, and deep-set eyes. 

That’s him,” I blurted. “The person I saw in the mirror last night.” 

Felix leaned over and eyed the picture a moment. “You’re certain?” 

As certain as I can be since I only saw him in a mirror for a nano-second in the dark. Who is it?” 

That’s Jean-Laurent Bosiard, my cousin, taken, judging by his suit, sometime in the 1930s.” 

Is he still alive?”
No. He died in the Second World War.” 
So, it’s kind of impossible I saw him.” 

Felix smiled but remained silent. 

Praise for Daisy and the Missing Mona Lisa:

“Echoes both The Da Vinci Code and a cozy French mystery…Rich with mystery and family secrets, this book has an unexpected premise that will keep readers engaged while they learn about both World War II history and French culture in the modern day.” —Mary R. Lanni, MLIS
“Filled with action-packed moments, insights and revelations, and powered by a girl determined to solve a mystery, Daisy and The Missing Mona Lisa is replete with atmospheric and emotional connection that makes for a story hard to put down.
—D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“For anyone who loves Paris, or wishes they could visit, reading Daisy and the Missing Mona Lisa will bring the City of Light and its countryside to life. This third book in a series for young readers (and those young at heart) is a tale about thievery, friendship, and dealing with the death of a loved one. The gentle scenes of grief are teachable moments worth reading…and the French glossary at the end encourages readers to learn something of another language. Another reason to meet Daisy, and feel like you’re in Paris.” —Dinah Eng, Random Acts Columnist

“Daisy is clever and resourceful…she reminds me of Nancy Drew [and] a children’s version of a Dan Brown book, full of action and running and chasing and thefts and danger. What kid wouldn’t love a book like that? —Bargain Sleuth Reviews
“The author deftly paints pictures of France and captures its uniqueness as Daisy moves about Paris and other parts of the country…an entertaining mystery.” 
—Mark Buxton, YA Books Central
“An intriguing mystery series you can read even if you haven’t read the others. Enjoyable!” —Sophia Davis, @dazed_and_reviewedbooks
“A delightful, mysterious and adventure-filled middle-grade fiction novel.”  —Scarlet Reese, Editor, Artisan Book Reviews
“Daisy Tannenbaum reminds me of a modern-day Nancy Drew living in Paris. What makes this story such fun is not just Daisy's desire to seek the truth, but her loyal sidekicks that follow her into mischief. The French language sprinkled throughout the story serves to cement the setting, making the glossary of French words and phrases in the back of the book a welcome addition. This book is the third in a series, and I will be on the outlook for not only the previous adventures but the future ones as well.” —Tammy Burke, International Educator & English Teacher
And here's even more praise for my misadventures? Pretty amazing, right?!

"Daisy is steadfast and intelligent...her casual first-person narration quickly establishes a rapport with readers who should enjoy watching Daisy's quick thinking in action." —BookLife Reviews for Publishers Weekly

"J.T. Allen has created an unforgettable character any young girl would love to call her friend and given young readers an introduction to the City of Light they will never forget. Young readers will immediately identify with Daisy as they fall in love with her courage and ingenuity." —Diana Falk, Norwin Public Library Director

"Daisy Tannenbaum—You are my hero! Talk about female empowerment, this almost-teen has more spunk than any superhero I know...can't wait for Daisy's next adventure!" —Michelle Moggio author of The Paris Effect

"I love the main character, Daisy. She has so much...character!! All in all a great book for girls and their moms!" 
—Miss Nathalie Paris, Mobile Librarian at Natta-Lingo and Primary Languages Teacher, UK

“…Fun and whimsical, the plot hits all the notes of teen action adventures…” —LiteraryTreats.com

“Daisy’s inner monologues are hilarious, her commentary spot-on (for a kid that age!) and the plot development was quick and easy to follow. J.T. Allen’s got all the right pieces in place for a long bright future with Daisy at his side.”  —IveReadThis.com

"Daisy stands up for the underdog, speaks her mind without being rude about it, and when she smells a rat, there’s no way you can keep her from uncovering the who, what, why, and how of it all. I say bravo to the author for creating such a fun character that readers would love to call friend while infusing the story with enough history to have them not only walk away entertained, but sneakily educated…” —InsatiableReaders.blogspot.com 
paperback and ebook | 249 pages | 978-09986805-3-8 | November 1, 2022