Mystery Baby: The Glass Teapot, written by Jolimichel Robinson and illustrated by Ron Cunningham
[Note: This book was sent to me free of charge by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own. A copy of the book may be found here.]
The somewhat complex and intriguing mystery that this novel wrestles with involves a glass teapot. Of course, as this is a mystery novel, the glass teapot is not as simple and straightforward as one might think. Given the fact that it survives the loss of the rest of the tea set when someone drives into it in a garage, one might think that the tea set belonged to the owner of the house, who has hired detective Misty’s cousin Bran Lee to house sit. Yet it is not as straightforward as that, and the mystery leads into very odd places that serve to remind us that the most complex and difficult secrets of our lives are often the secrets of the heart. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this novel deals with those matters of the heart in a way that is deeply thoughtful and poignant, allowing people whose chance together had seemed to have come and gone with another chance to make things right through some writing. As a writer myself, I found that particular aspect of the plot more than a bit puzzling, as my own personal experiences with writing have not been as sanguine as the presentation here.
The plot of this graphic novel is convoluted enough for a book larger than its modest size. Misty is apparently taking a break from her usual solving of mysteries to help her cousin not lose her job when a tea set is broken when Misty parks at the place where her cousin is housesitting. Why is a tea set in a location where someone can break it by driving on a driveway? This plot hole of sorts appears to be necessary because it sets up the whole plot of the novel–namely Misty’s attempts to restore things so that her cousin is able to keep her (apparently lucrative) housewarming gig. This leads to a shopping expedition for an item that is out of stock and is relatively expensive, the finding of a key to a safe deposit box that leads to a hidden room that is accidentally opened by Bran Lee which then leads to the discovery of a poem. The poem convicts the conscience of our heroine, leading to a set of very odd discoveries that unites two people together that we did not know about long before. Perhaps it would have been worthwhile for the novel to amp up the tension early in the novel by introducing one of the characters, but this novel does not do so.
Again, this novel presents something one would expect if one is familiar with the author’s work even a little. The drawings are delightfully quirky, the plot is wholesome and rewards faith in romantic love, and there are definitely some lessons here about honesty as well. To be sure, there would not have been much of a novel had Misty revealed the truth of the broken tea set and the key in the titular ceramic tea pot at the very beginning, but the mysteries themselves seem more symbolic of the secrets of the human heart and the way that people hide their love away from a world they believe to be cruel and unfeeling and unkind than as mere plot devices alone. While some of the events in the novel–including a poetry contest–are certainly convenient, the novel itself appears to be about deeper matters than merely fragile clay, but appear to be deeply symbolic, where a broken tea set left abandoned and forgotten is a symbol of the fragile and abandoned and broken hearts that have to be dealt with by far too many people, for whom no sweet and lovely poem can make it right.