reviews 8 – 10 Junior/Middle continued

Mason will pursue his goal. So when a letter arrives offering a paranormal mystery, Mason is happy – but less so when Iris who sent the letter turns up. Together, they set to work – can they succeed? But why does Mason have a living heart in a jar? That, reader is another story.... Tongue-in-cheek, Seaerra takes on the supernatural thriller

to audience. delight a The themes

KS2/KS3 may be

familiar – but this is where Miller’s success lies and what enables her to take full advantage of the potential for humour. And there is plenty to raise a laugh, whether it is the portrayal of the suave Trent, Mason’s egotism or

the quiet competence of Iris

(unrecognised by any other than the reader). Designed as a graphic novel, the writing is brisk, contemporary and presented mainly as lively dialogue with occasional

prose asides. The

reader is carried helter-skelter through the action as Miller skilfully employs all the techniques of the form. Then there are the illustrations – bold, energetic, colourful – saturated reds and purples – and lurid neon green ghosts – reflecting the storytelling to perfection. We must look forward to meeting Mason and Iris again.FH

The Island HHH

Judith Wisdom, Troika Books, 32pp, 978 1 912745 03 6, £11.99 hbk

Three best friends, Moon Lady, Trunky (a little elephant) and Little Lion, live together in a land where they aren’t very happy. The land has no real colour, only greys and browns, and everyone wears dark clothes.


the three friends are colourful, the natives find them strange and rather shy, and they don’t tend to go out except at night. One day they decide to leave, so they take a boat to find a new home. The island they discover looks friendly when they see it from their boat, but in fact all the people there are made to dress in emerald green, and they aren’t friendly at all. One little man is terribly rude and puts them in a zoo, where they find lots of unhappy animals, painted green too. This is definitely not home. Their escape and their final finding of a home make up the remainder of this unusual picture book about the difficulties of being different. The illustrations in soft

colours, made

up of collage pictures of Victorian- looking photographs, as well as very large-eyed,

appealing animals will

need careful attention to the detail to get the most from them. The moral is an excellent one and timely in its emphasis on the differences in each of us that make life interesting and must be accepted happily. ES

The Marvellous Land of Snergs


Veronica Cossanteli, based on the original by E. A Wyke-Smith, illus Melissa Castrillón, Chicken House, 320pp, 9781911490609, £6.99 pbk

Pip and Flora have one thing in common – they are orphans and inmates of

the Sunny Bay Home for Superfluous and Accidentally

Daisy and the Unknown Warrior


Tony Bradman, illus Tania Rex, Barrington Stoke, 978178112960, 72pp, £6.99 pbk

Miller, horror

It is 1920, the war has been over for two years, its ending marked by the extravagant celebrations when this was announced on 11 November 1911. But for many, including Daisy and her family it is not a happy time. Dad had died in the final action of the war and his body had never been found. Daisy just wants a chance to say goodbye. When Miss Wilkins tells the class that the body of an Unkown British Soldier is being brought back to be buried in Westminster Abbey, Daisy is convinced this will be her father. It is her chance – but how? She has no ticket and the crowds will be enormous. Can she be brave enough? As the

direct memories around

World War fade, so the details become less remembered especially when not concerned with the actual warfare. It may surprise young readers today how important the symbol of the Unknown Soldier was and the reason for the tomb in Westminster Abbey. Tony Bradman brings this moment in history alive. It is not a fast moving adventure; rather Bradman sets his story in the family, in the everyday life of Daisy and her brothers ensuring that his young audience will recognise and engage with Daisy; they will walk in her shoes. In the familiar concise Barrington Stoke format Bradman manages to include background facts that flesh out the period. Thoroughly enjoyable this is a history lesson without the pain. FH

Parentless Children. They are also continually getting into trouble – and now they are running away from the home, with an irrepressible puppy called Tiger and Gorbo – a Snerg with a talent for always doing (or saying) the wrong thing. They are running not so much from Miss Watkins and the home as from a lady dressed in purple. Who is she? Why does she want to capture Flora? The answer to these questions lies at the end of an adventure that will include cinnamon bears, wobsers, sqeezles,


Kelps and Golithos, an incompetent ogre, among other threats. Will they survive? This is not the novel written by

Wyke-Smith and published in 1927. However, Veronica Cossantelli has taken the central idea, the brimming imagination, an

element of the

moralising such a feature of books for the young at that time and created a lively homage that captures the flavour of the original for a contemporary audience. Pip and Flora are enjoyable characters – Pip coming from a circus family, lively, outgoing; silent Flora with her privileged background – both determined and loyal. Then there is Gorbo – a character to enchant with his overblown language and ability to create mayhem. It is this delight in words such as ‘pusillanimous’, ‘proscipient’, that

even ‘confusticated’ truly links Cossanteli’s clever

reimagining to its past. Much is made of its connection to Tolkien who apparently thoroughly enjoyed reading the original with his children. I recommend parents and teachers copy his example and share this story with their children; it demands to be read aloud with its nonstop plot, humour, outrageous characters, jeopardy – and final satisfying happy ending. FH

Saturdays at the Imaginarium


Shauna Darling Robertson, illus Jude Wisdom, Troika, 96pp, 9781912745128, £7.99 pbk

After a busy week when Father has been immersed in the news, Mum overburdened sister

‘menaces brother

by housework, kid the

mirror’ is ‘bug-eyed and with screen

time’, it is the weekend. It is time to let the mind loose in the Imaginarium anything/could to

will excite your exploring the ordinary so that

imagination it

happen’.Welcome Shauna Darling Robertson’s

Imaginarium where she will introduce you to ideas, questions, possibilities that should not be... In other words she

becomes extraordinary, playing with words, looking at the world sideways. She will introduce you to her ‘straight- talking’ grandmother – and what does that mean? To Wild Child who says ‘No’ to restrictions. She will challenge you to become a Poetry Guerilla, spreading ballads, haikus, triolets or to think what it might have been like before the birds took flight and then wonder what if... This is a

The Story of the Windrush HHHH

K.N. Chimbiri, Scholastic, 48pp, 9780702307133, £6.99 hbk

This short information book presents the story of the men, women and children who arrived

in London

aboard the HMT Empire Windrush from the Caribbean in 1948 in an accessible way

for young readers.

It was first published in 2018 by Golden Destiny, the author’s own publishing house, and has now been re-published by Scholastic Children’s Books. The author celebrates the courage and legacy of the Windrush pioneers and explains the context of the event as marking the beginning of modern Black Britain. Historical facts combine with voices from the Windrush generation to explain colonisation and racism to a younger audience and to depict real people and their struggles and dreams. Throughout

the is enhanced book the text by contemporary

photographs, sepia-toned illustrations and maps and a detailed timeline and

glossary aid understanding.

Historical information is interwoven with stories of individual people who made the journey, such as Sam King who served in the RAF, worked for the postal service, and eventually became the first Black Mayor of Southwark. Care is taken to stress that the UK requested the help of the people of the Caribbean in re-building the country after WW11. This short book succeeds in depicting both

the wider context of

colonialism and post-war recovery and the personal contribution individuals to

public services. SR Selected Children’s Poems


Robert Hull, Salisbury Printing Company, 85pp, pbk

This is a carefully selected collection of poetry, varied in mood, style and topic covering a broad

range of

themes including the weather, space, school and mythology. An everyday object becomes a topic for a poem in Table which has its own stories to tell.

Books for Keeps No.246 January 2021 29

British of

British society and

collection to dip into and have the imagination fired up, tickled into life,

curiosity roused to ask those

questions that hover at the edge of the mind as one looks at the sky or hears a casual catch-phrase. These poems are fun – and yet offer serious thoughts. Imagine if… she says in the opening poem, and we are faced with seeing the strangeness, the absurdity of the real. Accompanying her words are the illustrations by Jude Wisdom. Nothing twee Her

or captures

contemporary vision perfectly the


poetical here. of


imagination as well as the humour within the poems. There are gems to be discovered here. This is Shauna Darling Robertson’s first collection for a younger audience. We look forward to more. FH

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