January 2009 Archives

Waterslain Angels

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Kevin Crossley-Holland
Eerdmans
978-1-84255-691-7
Autumn 2008

Set in Norfolk in 1955 this children's novel, both beautifully and poetically written ("poppies white as talcum powder and pink as peardrops and scarlet as new blood" in the opening paragraph) and tightly plotted from one daring escapade to the next, is a thrilling and evocative read.

Ten-year-old Annie and eleven-year-old Sandy (just returned to England from America with his mother) take it upon themselves to try and discover a set of carved angels missing from the church for hundreds of years.

The freedom allowed ten and eleven-year-olds in the 1950s allows Crossley-Holland to write episode aftger episode of reckless daring. One particularly vivid scene has them climbing the church tower and being attacked by a swarm of bees.

The dialogue is marvellously clipped and unbloated. When the adults are involved the reader is made party to remarks that cleverly create, brushstroke after brushstroke, a backstory going back a decade, when American GI's were stationed in the region. The other backstory reverberates across centuries from the time when the angels were first carved to the time when they were taken or hidden away and on to the present time of their attempted recovery.

The characters in the novel are presented at the front of the book as a cast list. I could think of nothing more pleasing than a television serialisation of this wonderfully well-modulated story.


The Time Traveller's Journal

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Ruth Redford
Hutchinson
978-0091799045
Winter 2008


The guidebook for any budding time traveller, this book takes you on a journey through time. Each page is bursting with pop-ups, pull outs, activities, rich drawings and weird and wonderful facts. Much like 'Dragonology' and 'Pirateology' this book is somewhat of a novelty, yet artfully compiled. Filled with intricate details 'The Time Traveller's Journal' fits into the 'ology' book genre that is so popular with younger readers currently. Written by Ruth Redford, and presented as 'Prospero Hermes' Journal, the book mixes diary entries with factual information from the dinosaurs to life in space. While the first glance might dismiss this book as a gimmick, there is no doubt that Rachel Clark's design is enthralling. Indeed, there was many an argument when this book arrived in my book corner; everyone wanted to use the mirror to decode the secret message or read the pull-out newspaper documenting the Titanic sinking. A firm favourite, making history compelling.

reviewed for ACHUKA by Danielle Alder.