LONG LIST REVIEW: The Jewelled Jaguar

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When a sinkhole causes Griffin's house to collapse, his mother only just survives and is left in a coma. With her in hospital, Griffin has to go and  live with an aunt, uncle and cousin he hasn't seen for years. Although his aunt and uncle are kind, his cousin, their lifestyle is very different to that which he shares with his mother and Cinnamon, his cousin, is hostile and unkind.

However, as events surrounding the mysterious 'Jewelled Jaguar', an ancient Aztec sacrificial knife which his mother found on a diving trip, lead them into danger, the cousins must work together to decide who they can trust, face their fears and solve the mystery of the Jewelled Jaguar.

Exciting, engaging and intriguing, 'The Jewelled Jaguar' is an excellent read. From its dramatic opening to its satisfying conclusion, the book is beautifully written.

Griffin is a very likeable character who is forced to deal with very difficult circumstances. His confusion and discomfort at having to live with relations who have a very different lifestyle is realy well handled, offering plenty of opportunities to discuss how author's add detail to develop character. Cinnamon is also a great individual with her pet rat, purple hair and attitude! How we are different, how we come to respect those differences, how we need to give others a chance are all ideas which could be developed whilst reading the book.

The settings in the story are also vividly described- the wildness of the Spike (Aunt Opal and Uncle Rhodri's home) is an amazing place full of clutter and family life, but also wild, dilapidated and slightly spooky. The contrast between the order of Griffin's home life and the disorder of his cousin's is reinforced by their gardens- the care given to maintaining the one and the confusion of the other. 

There are many points in the story which could inspire art, drama, narrative, non-fiction and poetry. This is also the sort of story you find yourself 'learning' from- Sharon has seamlessly woven interesting bits of information into the story- about worms, clootie wells and trees, the Aztecs. All wrapped up into a fabulous story perfect for our Quality Fiction category.

The Jewelled Jaguar    Sharon Tregenza, cover illustration by Xavier Bonet

Firefly Press      ISBN: 978-1910080641