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High Rise Mystery

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There’s been a murder on the Tri and sisters, Anika (Nik) and Norva -super-sleuths- are determined to solve the crime. The victim is Hugo, their community arts teacher, and their are plenty of suspects as the girls use their local knowledge, boundless energy and detective skills to crack the case.

Written in short chapters with plenty of dialogue, this book bursts with vitality, giving a pacey, satisfying read as the girls systematically investigate. Fellow fan of DIP (Death in Paradise) Norva is street wise and savvy whilst Nik is ‘science-led with a shaved head’, a thinker, a planner. The pairing is perfect as each bring their own skill-set to solving the mystery and clearing their father’s name as they investigate each suspect in turn.

Each character is well rounded and believable with distinctive speech patterns adding to this. May Burton- Cloud News Reporter- portrays an outsider’s view of the Tri which stands in stark contrast to that the reader experiences through the eyes of the girls and other residents. Hard realities- the lack of money invested in the estate, the struggle the girls’ father (Head Caretaker at the Tri) has to maintain the building- along with this media stereotyping are part of the fabric of the story, offering a truth not often considered in children’s books.

A brilliant detective story, let’s hope there are many more crimes for this pair to solve.

High Rise Mystery Sharna Jackson

Knights Of ISBN: 978-1999642518

Seaglass

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Lark’s anger is getting out of control. Her mother is ill, her little sister has stopped talking and Lark has fallen out with her best friend. Faced with a family holiday in a caravan park, Lark escapes to explore at the first opportunity. Taking her sister, Snow, with her, the two soon discover a ruined cottage in the woods which has an eerie atmosphere. Glimpses of a mysterious girl in a green dress increase Lark’s feelings of unease and when this figure appears in Snow’s drawings, Lark fears for her sister’s safety.

Eerie and atmospheric, ‘Seaglass’ is a chilling ghost story which will grip the reader from the outset. As the tension grows, there are some truly spooky moments designed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The story is enhanced by vivid descriptions of the countryside and seashore. The mood of the plot is frequently echoed in by the weather- the drifting fog hiding mysterious figures, the squall at sea, the snow at the story’s chilling climax- and references to wildlife and Welsh traditions add colour and detail.

Full of strong characters, ‘Seaglass’ is a story about relationships- the complexities of family life, the ups and downs of friendship, the suspicion and prejudice often offered to strangers. Lark is feisty, yet torn by worries for her family, her loneliness and anger constantly simmering beneath the surface.. Mam-gu is a wonderful character- a strong matriarch, yet one who is shown to be vulnerable as her role in the unfolding tale becomes clear. The complexities of family relationships and the ease at which misunderstandings can damage relationships are also explored as the story reaches its emotional conclusion.

‘Seaglass’ is powerful and absorbing, unsettling and moving. Not the thing to read at bedtime!

Seaglass Eloise Williams

Firefly Press ISBN: 978-1910080801

Little Bird Flies

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Twelve year old Bridget MacKerrie dreams of spreading her wings. She loves living on the remote Scottish Island of Tornish but when her days are full of endless chores and the same faces, whether they belong to family, neighbours or chickens, a life beyond the seas calls. Bridie loves nothing more then climbing the Glass Crags barefoot, where she can feel closest to the sky. She lives up to her nickname ‘Little Bird’, not allowing her physical disabilities to hold her back but aiming high and with thoughts of reaching for more in life. Her best friend Will Beaton can just about keep up with her energy and spirit but occasionally gets his own back with his incessant teasing.

Since Queen Victoria herself sang the praises of the north of Scotland, life has begun to change for the MacKerrie family. They are happy to serve the Laird of Tornish, as tenants on his land. They cannot help but respect a man who treats them with such kindness. Unfortunately, all this soon changes with the arrival of the Laird’s rich relations from the mainland. Quickly, life takes a terrible turn and living on the Isle of Tornish becomes impossibly difficult for Bridie, her family and friends. They each have to face the terrible decision of whether they stay on the Island they love or escape and make a fresh start. 

The story of ‘Little Bird’ is set in the 1860s and focuses on two apposing landscapes: the Island of Tornish and the city of Glasgow. The story is divided in two as Bridie experiences a different set of challenges in each location. Author Karen McCombie grew up in Scotland and worked hard to bring a sense of authenticity to the rural and non rural scenery she depicts for her characters. This is a well constructed Victorian drama which addresses general themes of friendship, inequality, emigration and disability. Whilst the story features a female protagonist, there are a myriad of characters to identify with enjoy reading about. Set in a time when disabilities were feared and pitied, Bridie’s character, which is full of gumption, really stands out. Karen McCombie has created a heroine to truly admire.

For fans of the book, a sequel will be released soon entitled, ‘Little Bird Lands’ which charts Bridie’s experiences as an immigrant in America.

Little Bird Flies would be a fantastic text to share with an upper KS2 class. The publishers Nosy Crow have even created a teaching sequence to be used to share the book, which can be found here.

Little Bird Flies  Karen McCombie

Nosy Crow ISBN: 978-0857639103