Carly Keene: Literary Detective is a new character in the young adult literature world. She is a terrific role model for young girls as a twelve year old who loves adventure, reading, and trusts her own mind and intuition in a refreshing way. She is from Alaska, which gives her an appreciation of the wilderness, but she is also a girl who enjoys a bit of literary time travel as she does in the book, Braving the Brontes.
Katherine Rue’s book is intended for a young adult readership, with many pop culture references that would not go over the heads of many ten year olds. Illustrator Nick Guarracino’s illustrations are very expressive and convey Carly’s personality and sense of enthusiasm well.
In this scene, Carly has just made her way back to the present day having spent over a month with the Bronte family in 1846. She had to convince the sisters to continue writing their novels and get Charlotte to let her read Jane Eyre (which has yet to be completed) to make her way home. Her friend, Francesca (Nan), has only been asleep in a bookshop for a few minutes. Carly is super excited to be home and share with Nan her adventures in the past.
The sense of relief to be in the familiar and with her best friend is clearly shown in Carly’s face (at left). We can see Carly and Nan embracing, a clear sign of their close friendship and Carly’s relief at seeing her again. Nan (at right) appears somewhat taken aback by Carly’s enthusiasm, as we can see on her expression. Both girls are dressed in jeans and hoodies, indicating that it is cold outside. Additionally, their dress is modern and not sexualized — a great representation of young girls. They are also differentiated in their faces, which gives non-readers possible clues to their diverse ethnicities.
Reminiscent of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Carly never loses hope that she will get home and trusts her self to make it happen, while fully participating in the world she is in.