Magpies, Thai-riffic! and Important Things

I had the pleasure of chatting about these books on ABC Radio Canberra Drive Show with the lovely Louise Maher on Tuesday June 8 2010

What a great bunch of books!

Deborah Abela, Author of Max Remy Superspy series, Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series and The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen.

http://www.deborahabela.com

The Important Things written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas

(New Frontier Publishing)

Picture book ages 4-8

One of the beautiful things about picture books is that they can deal with some of life’s most complex and difficult issues in simple and uncomplicated ways. In Peter Carnavas’ new book, Christopher’s mother does everything because Christopher’s father had faded from their lives. One day, she fills a box with all his father’s things…small, unimportant things…and takes them to a second-hand store. But, those unimportant things begin reappearing in their house: an old cracked coffee mug, a pair of slippers, piano sheet music. His mother can’t work out what is happening until one night, unable to sleep, she sneaks downstairs to find Christopher with dad’s old green hat. Christopher explains he brought the things back because he was trying to remember, whereas his mum admits, she took them away because she was trying to forget. The next day, they went back to the shop and brought all his dad’s things back….small things, important things…and found a place for them all. This is a gentle book about the importance of remembering and of finding a place for people no longer in our lives as part of making us who we are.

Magpie written by Luke Davies and illustrated by Inari Kiuru

(ABC Books)

Picture book ages 5-7

Luke Davies remembers as a kid the terror of being chased by a magpie.

He remembers running home to his dad and sobbing and mostly, he remembers his dad declaring, ‘Right! We’ll go get that magpie.’ Dedicated to his father, ‘banisher of magpies and defender of the realm’, this book retells the story of those memories but this time, father and son go on a more epic journey of protection and love in the form of a male dog and his frightened pup. Illustrator Inari Kiuru creates a father who travels over vast lands with his son, over many days and nights, through rain, darkness and howling winds, until he reaches the place of the attack. ‘Dad held my hand, hurled rocks into the empty trees, screamed at the black bush, ‘go away!’’ Even though the son knew the magpie had long gone, he loved his father for the journey, the protection and mostly, ‘I loved him for pretending.’

Thai-Riffic! written by Oliver Phommavanh and illustrated by Evi O

(Penguin books)

Novel for ages 10+

Albert Lengviriyakul (Lengy for short) thinks of himself as a fake Aussie…he sounds Aussie and feels Aussie but was made in Thailand. His family lives above their restaurant called Thai-Riffic! (with an exclamation mark!). They are very proud of their business but Lengy prefers pizza over red curry, would rather have a name that doesn’t look like alphabet soup and is desperate to be the ‘same as everyone else’. Interspersed with cheeky, cartoonish drawings, each chapter is a small vignette of Lengy’s life: a life where he does everything he can to forget he is Thai. But he is constantly reminded just how loved Thai culture is….his parents’ food for multicultural day is a hit, the bad-tempered neighbour Mr Roberts comes round to loving Thai food and his best friend, Rajiv chooses Thailand for his school project because of how fascinating it is. Oliver is a comedian, teacher and writer and he’s created a ‘coming of culture’ book for Lengy, who begins to appreciate his heritage and discovers he can be both Thai and Aussie, in a book filled with laughs, likeable characters and loads of fun! With an exclamation mark!

Peas, Lizards and The City

I had the pleasure of chatting to Chris Coleman at ABC Canberra on Tuesday May 25 2010. Any chance to talk about books, I’m there.

Deborah Abela

Author of Max Remy Superspy series, Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series and The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen.

http://www.deborahabela.com

Two Peas in a Pod written and illustrated by Chris McKimmie

(Allen and Unwin)

Early childhood picture book ages 3-6

Chris McKimmie has captured perfectly the sometimes chaotic yet wonderfully imaginative world of a young child’s mind. Marvin’s best friend Violet calls him Marvin the Marvellous and the two go together like roundabouts and swings, a pair of wings and the oo in moo. Mum tells him they are like two peas in a pod. Even their pets are best friends. But when Violet tells Marvin they are moving to the moon, her house is packed up and they leave. Marvin is left desolate so far away from his best friend and at the end of winter, just as Marvin was about to put Violet in with the forgets, Mum buys him a ticket on Koala Airlines to visit her. There is a scribbly, childlike nature to Chris’ drawings (which he created with a little help from his kids) and the exaggeration that comes with childhood is splayed across every page. ‘We have all lived together in Raven Street since dinosaur time. Almost.’

How to Talk to a Frill-Neck Lizard written James Moloney and illustrated by Simone Linehan (Part of the Mates: Great Australian Yarns series)

(Omnibus Books)

Junior novel Ages 6+

Bern and Cody are two brothers who live on a cattle station with their frill-neck lizard called, Tarantula. During a visit from their Uncle Mo, Tarantula eats Bern’s homework on insects. While chasing him to get it back, they discover just how fast a frill-neck lizard can run. Uncle Mo suggests they enter him in the local lizard races, but the boys don’t think Tarantula would like it. A few days later when they arrive home from school, they can’t find their pet. When Mum calls them to go into town for the races, they realise Uncle Mo is already there and they know immediately where their pet has gone. The race begins and even though Tarantula wins, scruffy Uncle Mo doesn’t quite have the victory he’d hoped for, thanks to a jar of cockroaches Bern brought with him. Simone’s illustrations of the dusty Australian town leap off the pages with a colour and energy that perfectly match the cheekiness of the two boys and their pesky pet.

The City written and illustrated by Armin Greder

(Allen and Unwin)

Picture book older readers Ages 11-16

Armin Greder has a way of creating whole moods from his drawings and stories. A woman who lives in a city, where winter would sometimes last three years, decides she wants to protect her son from ‘the terrible things that happen in life’ and moves to a place where there are no roads, no bridges and no fields. Here she cares for her boy and keeps him safe from harm. One day, a lost group of travellers, dressed in bright clothes and carrying musical instruments, asks for directions to the city. This is the one colourful illustration in the book. The boy is intrigued and asks his mother if one day they could go to the city too? One moonless night, the boy’s mother dies. He is lost and even beyond the grave, her fear-filled voice still holds sway on his life, until he decides to ignore her warnings and begin the journey to the city. This book looks at what can happen when we let fear rule our lives. How it can tie people to dark and desolate places, with no hope and very little colour. It’s only that fear is ignored, that we step into a future with any kind of confidence and hope.

Governor-General Invites Me To Her Home

What a great last few days! I’ve been swanning around the Sydney Writers’ Festival and getting blissfully lost listening to authors from all around the world. Some highlights were David Vann, Willy Valutin, David Marr, Ross Fitgerald, Annabelle Crabbe (she interviewed Tony Abbott who didn’t take audience questions and had me looking at my watch to see how long we had left.) Rupert Thompson, Joe Meno, Christopher Hitchens. Gosh so many interesting speakers.

But another personal favourite of this year’s Festival, was being invited to Admiralty House by her Excellency the Governor-General to give some writing workshops to around 90 kids. What a place! Do you think she’d let me and my friends stay overnight one weekend?

I had the pleasure to be there with the lovely lasses below. From left to right: Zoe Walton (Fab publisher Random House) Linly Goh (SWF organiser extraordinaire) Belinda Murrell, Kate Forsyth and me…the three lucky authors!

Brilliant! Thanks to all the kids who were there. It was so much fun to be with such keen and talented writers.

Ciao  then!

Wobbly Streets, Trick Riders and Creepy Stuff

These books were reviewed on ABC Radio Canberra Drive Show with Louise Maher on Tuesday May 11 2010

Books reviewed by Deborah Abela

Author of Max Remy Superspy series, Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series and The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen.

http://www.deborahabela.com

Wibbly Wobbly Street written by Trudie Trewin and illustrated by Cheryl Orsini

(Scholastic)

Picture book 4+

Wibbly Wobbly Street is a very special street in Squareton. It wobbles and weaves through a town of mostly straight, flat and tidy streets. And that is how the people who live there like it but, the councillors aren’t quite so fond of this peculiar street. They decide it’s spoiling the town and needs to be ‘rectangle-fied’. They call in the street-straightener with his rulers and tape measures to give it a wibble-ectomy. The tractors struggle to pull the street into line and it looks as if they might fail, when Wibbly Wobbly Street snaps into line and looks like all the other streets. But deep underground, something shudders and shakes and with a mighty twang, the street springs back to its wobbly self, ‘just a wink more peculiar than before.’ The residents of the street throw a huge party and, in spite of their grumpy selves, the councillors find themselves joining in. The illustrations have a bright, 50’s feel and are a treasure hunt to look at because each time you get a little closer, you find something else to giggle at or admire. 

Little Else written by Julie Hunt and illustrated by Beth Norling

(Allen and Unwin)

Younger Readers

Times are tough for Little Else and her grandmother who live in Stony Gully. The drought has been hard and money is scarce. When Sam Strong arrives at their door recruiting for Ma Calico’s circus, Little Else knows this is her chance to make their lives better. She soon meets the cantankerous owner herself, who teaches Little Else to perform tricks on horseback. Little Else is a natural, partly because of her abilities as a horse whisperer. She makes friends in the circus, both animals and humans alike, but when she realises Ma Calico has no intention of paying any of the performers, she searches out the meanest bushranger around to make Ma pay her dues. This is a cute story about a plucky little girl who not only achieves her aim of helping out her grandmother, but also solves the mystery of the disappearance of her grandfather in a clever story twist. If young readers enjoy this one, they’re in luck, this is the first of three adventures of this little girl, each sprinkled with lively colour illustrations throughout.

Short and Scary: A whole lot of creepy stories and other chilling stuff edited by Karen Tayleur. Creators include Marc McBride, Susanne Gervay, Carole Wilkinson and many, many more.

(Black Dog Books)

Older readers

The great thing about a book of short and scary stories, is that you can dip in and out as your desire for scaring dictates. This book has a selection of stories from a bountiful collection of Australian authors and illustrators. There are clowns, zombies and loads of things that go bump in the night. Often in old and gloomy houses. Childhood imaginary monsters come back to haunt and untrustworthy tooth fairies sneak in at night. I am reluctant to point any out because I can’t mention them all but Sally Rippin’s Bonnikins is wonderfully scary, Susanne Gervay has written an eerie moonlight mystery and Barry Jonsberg tells a spooky tale of what happens to a girl who gets a not–so-cute doll for her birthday. All loads of dark stormy fun for those who like a scare.

ABC book reviews: Bears, Rangers and Paradise

These books were reviewed on ABC Radio Canberra Drive Show with Louise Maher on Tuesday April 27 2010

Books reviewed by Deborah Abela

Author of Max Remy Superspy series, Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series and The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen.

http://www.deborahabela.com

The Other Bears written and illustrated by Michael Thompson

(Fremantle Press)

Picture book

Writer and Illustrator Michael Thompson must have had a lot of fun creating this book. A group of koala bears, who are not bears but tailless, tree-dwelling marsupials, settle in for a day at the beach. To mum and dad’s horror, they are interrupted by a whole swag of other bears. Panda bears with their strange ears and shoes, polar bears with their claws and giant coats and black bears with their band instruments, making a tremendous noise. But with each new arrival, the youngest koalas find something new to love…the food, the music, the jokes and the fun! Finally, grumpy mum and dad stop their grumbling to see how happy their kids are with the other bears and their bad moods melt away. The illustrations of all the different bears each with their own talents are very cute, but the end page with all of the bears crowded together in one giant party is the cutest of all.

Ranger in Danger: Part 1 Diablo’s Doom written by Sean Willmore and Alison Reynolds

(Five Mile Press)

Adventure series 9-12 year olds

As a kids’ author, I have met many young male reluctant readers who can be enticed into reading by two forms of books: the graphic novel and choose your own adventures, or as the Ranger In Danger series is called, decide-your-destiny. This series has loads to get those kids reading and was the brainchild international park ranger, Sean Willmore, a fierce campaigner for wildlife conservation. The book begins with an invitation to the reader: an email to be a guest ranger in Makari National Park in Africa. As you read, you are stopped at various points in the action and given alternatives as to what you can do next, with twenty possible endings. Along the way, there are criminal poachers, wild rhinos, stampeding elephants and the constant threat to rangers’ lives. You learn fascinating facts about the wildlife as well as the dangerous work many rangers do to save the animal. Sean has also started The Thin Green Line Foundation, that looks after the families of rangers who have been killed in the line of duty.

Little Paradise by Gabrielle Wang

(Penguin)

Teen Readers

Inspired by the true story of her mother, Gabrielle’s novel tells of 17-year-old Australian-born Chinese girl, Mirabel. Spirited, smart and showing signs of being a highly talented dress designer, Mirabel meets and falls in love with JJ, a Chinese soldier, stationed in Melbourne during WWII. But when he returns to China, Mirabel discovers she is pregnant and despite pressure from her family, she keeps the baby and leaves Australia to search for JJ. China, however, is in the grip of a civil war, creating an atmosphere of suspicion, fear and the constant threat of danger. Mirabel’s determination and courage in the face of so many obstacles propels the story. From the constraints placed on women of that time, to the search for JJ in a country in turmoil and the prospect of returning to an Australia gripped by the White Australia policies, Mirabel’s quest is not an easy one. This novel is a fascinating glimpse of a period of time in two very different countries from a girl wedded to both.

Max Remy series voted in YABBA’s

The entire Max Remy Superspy series has been shortlisted of the Young Australian Best Book Awards!!! This is such an honour! The YABBA’s are an annual award where kids vote for their fav books! Max has always been special to me because the publication of the first book in the series, In Search of the Time and Space Machine, began my writing career. Max is based on me – feisty, adventurous (or so she’d like to think) and very, very clumsy – and my adventures I had when I was younger travelling around the world, getting thrown in jail (twice), harassed by monkeys and caught in a huge sandstorm in the Sahara Desert.

Excellent! The awards will be announced on the YABBA website soon. The link is: http://home.vicnet.net.au/~yabba

The winners of the shortlist will be announced in November.

Happy spying!

Deb

ABC Book Reviews – A Funky Monkey, A Jaguar Warrior and Eric

These books were reviewed on ABC Radio Canberra Drive Show with Louise Maher on Tuesday April 13 2010

Books reviewed by Deborah Abela

Author of Max Remy Superspy series, Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series and The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen.

http://www.deborahabela.com

One Funky Monkey written by Stacey McCleary and Sue Degennaro

(Walker Books Australia)

Picture book early counting book

The very cheeky monkey of this story, has a great sense of rhythm and after beginning his own late night dance, leads a charming menagerie of animals who groove their way through the moonlight hours. There are 6 reggaeing rhinos, 7 moonwalking meerkats, 9 disco dancing dragons and 10 boogalooing elephants. My favourite are the four limber lions ‘booting and scooting’ and ‘lion-dancing.’ And the end, we’re left with a conga line of frolicking, jiving and hip hopping animals and from the 10 elegant elephants to the one funky monkey who started it all. There’s a lightness of touch to Sue’s illustrations that so beautifully match these light-footed creatures dancing, swaying and sashaying as young readers enjoy some ‘jive-talking’ as they learn to count.

Eric written and illustrated by Shaun Tan

(Allen and Unwin)

Picture book

‘Some years ago we had a foreign exchange student come to live with us. We found it very difficult to pronounce his name correctly, but he didn’t mind. He told us to just call him Eric.’ So begins Shaun Tan’s pocket sized version of one of the stories in Tales from Outer Suburbia. Eric’s host family made up the spare room but to their confusion, Eric chose to sleep in the pantry. Thinking perhaps it was a ‘cultural thing’, Mum declared it okay, ‘As long as he is happy.’ The young narrator is excited by the chance to be a fountain of information for their new lodger, who in turn is curious and always had lots of questions. However, despite wanting to impress with many great and big things, Eric always seemed ‘more interested in small things he found on the ground,’ which also confused the family, until one morning, with a polite wave, Eric left and never came back. The family worried that he hadn’t been happy after all, but when they discover a treasury of small colourful artworks left behind in the black and white pantry, they’re filled with delight and it’s always the first thing shown to new visitors who come to their home.

Jaguar Warrior written by Sandy Fussell

(Walker Books)

9-12 year olds

One of Sandy’s many talents as an author, is to write about a period of history young readers may not be familiar with and bring it to life. Jaguar Warrior opens with a thirteen-year-old boy called Atl, who has been imprisoned in a box waiting to be sacrificed to the Serpent-Sun god. But during an attack on the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, the High Priest of the temple frees him, telling him to return to the city of his birth for help. Atl flees, happy at last to be free. He quickly comes across Lali, the short, wiry show-off who never stops talking and Zolan, a slaveboy owned by a cruel merchant whom they free. Together these three young kids have to cross rugged and dangerous terrain, as well as escape the captain of the Temple guard, who is determined that the sacrifice of Atl will go ahead. This is a fast moving, intriguing book, where not everything is at it seems and the true motives for some character’s actions aren’t immediately obvious. It is only when these kids begin to realise their own strengths and talents, as well as who to trust, that they also discover what is possible when they work together.

Aurelie is a CBC Notable!!!

I’m hoping my Nanna is very chuffed. When I was young all those stories she told me about ghosts she could see all over the house welded its way into the little mind and heart of  a very young Deb. I kept them there all those years, fascinated and slightly worried that my nanna was in fact a little mad. But she wasn’t mad, she was strong and feisty and so thin I often wondered if she ate anything at all. She could be gruff but had a cheeky smile when you least expected it…and her stories about ghosts were magic.

Last week, the final edit of my new novel, Grimsdon, was due. The cover is also close to being finalised and as soon as I am able to show you it’ll be here…it’s been created by wonderful UK based artist, Zdenko Basic and it looks brilliant!! Like an epic tale of heroism, flying machines and cities awash with flood. Oooohhh can’t wait to show you all.

I say this because when the Children’s Book Council Awards were announced last week I was nowhere near a computer or list or even phone, because I had to finish my edit with no distractions….when I handed in the edit to Brandon and Zoe at Random House it was only then that I found out….drum roll…

THE REMARKABLE SECRET OF AURELIE BONHOFFEN

IS A NOTABLE BOOK IN THE

CHILDREN’S BOOK COUNCIL AWARDS 2010!!!!

This book was a little tricky to write…sometimes books are like naughty kids that you know are gold inside but just refuse to behave…which of course is frustrating but actually makes you love their spirit even more than before. My old agent hated it when I handed in the first draft but with lots of work from the very clever Brandon and Zoe, Aurelie came good.

And possibly a little overseeing from Nanna….thanks Nanna!!!

Congratulations to all the other Notables and shortlisters!! It is a really strong list and proves how very brilliant Australian writers and illustrators are.

The list is at: http://cbca.org.au/

ABC Book reviews – An Australian Lullaby, Kokoda Angels and a Piper’s Son

These books were reviewed by children’s author, Deborah Abela on ABC Radio Canberra Drive Show with Louise Maher on Tuesday March 30 2010.

Deborah is the author of Max Remy Superspy series, Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series and The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen.

http://www.deborahabela.com

Snug As A Hug An Australian Lullaby written by Marcia Vaughan and Illustrated by Pamela Lofts (Scholastic Australia) Picture book

Snug as a Hug is a cuddle-in bedtime story that offers a sneak peek at Australian animals getting ready to sleep. From joey curled up in his mum’s pouch, to turtle dreaming far out in the sea and wombat snuggled in a burrow down deep. As the animals fall off to sleep, we visit coral reefs, the tops of gum trees and a collection of blue items that make up the bowerbird’s fancy bed. This is a gentle foray into the quiet nighttime of Australian fauna that will lull little readers to sleep too. The pencil drawings are alive with colour from the prickly, round echidna, to the snug as a hug bandicoot and the numbat nodding off in a secret den. And after all these creatures have settled into sleep, so has a small child, surrounded by stuffed wildlife toys and gentle words inviting her to ‘let wonderful dreams float through your head, as you drift off to sleep in your warm, comfy bed.’

Angel of Kokoda written and Illustrated by Mark Wilson (Hachette’s Children’s Books) Picture book for Older Readers

Kari grew up in a peaceful mission east of Kokoda in Papua New Guinea. His father taught him the ways of the mountain people and Sister Mary taught him English at the school. While he is on a hillside tending his vegetable garden, he hears Kokoda being bombed. He rushes down to see the mission abandoned. In Sister Mary’s home, he finds her angel music box and a note. Kari makes out the word, Kokoda and heads there, but there’s no sign of Sister Mary only Australian soldiers. One soldier befriends Kari. Then they’re hit. The soldiers fight bravely but are soon overrun and Kari helps carry his wounded friend through the mud and rain of the mosquito-infested Kokoda track. Mark Wilson’s paintings and sketches create scenes that draw the reader in, from muddy battlefields to dense, animal-filled jungles. Clippings of letters and cablegrams give a fuller scope of the situation. This is a poignant and thought-provoking book, richly designed and illustrated that offers a view of a battlefield very close to Australian hearts, through the eyes of a small boy.

The Piper’s Son written by Melina Marchetta (Penguin Viking) Teenage Readers

Thomas McKee is in trouble. Two years ago a tragedy tore into his family and broke them apart, emotionally and physically. He has spent the time drinking, smoking and trying to lose himself in oblivion. He also lost connection with a new love, his friends and his family, all of whom knew the best of who he could be and grounded him to the world. Thomas doesn’t realise but he needs these people if he’s going to stop messing up and they need him too; the old Thomas who is missing in too much sorrow and anger. Thomas first appeared in Melina’s novel, Saving Francesca, only now it’s five years on, but the writing is so instantly engaging, that even if you’ve never met Tom, you feel you know him and his world within a few paragraphs. This is raw, strong storytelling of life at its most complicated and vulnerable, but Melina’s sense of hope in her characters, even when life feels its most hopeless, never leaves.  

ABC book reviews – Memory Jars, Shadows and Time Travel

These books were reviewed by children’s author, Deborah Abela on ABC Radio Canberra Drive Show with Louise Maher on Tuesday March 16 2010.

Deborah is the author of Max Remy Superspy series, Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series and The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen.

http://www.deborahabela.com

Molly’s Memory Jar written by Norma Spaulding and Illustrated by Jacqui Grantford (New Frontier Publishing) Picture Book for younger readers

Molly is a small girl whose beloved golden retriever, Lucy, has died. Seeing his little girl sad and lonely, Molly’s dad comes up with an idea to make her feel better. He asks Molly to remember one good thing about Lucy. That’s easy, Molly said, and she thought of how every time she came home, Lucy would bring her one of her toys as a welcoming gift. Her father then brought out a bag of coloured glass balls. He asks her to choose a bright yellow ball and drop it into a memory jar. This would always be there to remind Molly of this memory. She then remembers more about Lucy, from the time she ate a plate of pink cupcakes to lolloping in waves at the beach and with each one, Molly chooses another coloured ball. Eventually she begins to feel better, as she realises that with the jar, she will always have Lucy nearby. This beautifully illustrated book gently looks at a child’s grief and one way to help ease it, as well as being a delightful look at the dizzying love between kids and their pets.

Lilly and Her Shadow by Pat Dudgeon and Laura Dudgeon (Fremantle Press) First Chapter Book – Younger readers

This is part of the Waarda series of books from WA. Waarda is Nyungar for talking and sharing stories. Pat and Laura Dudgeon are aunt and niece and together they’ve come up with the story of Lilli. The book opens with Lilli and her grandma covered in mango juice from fruit they’ve eaten from Grandma’s tree, something Lilli has done since she was a child, but Lilli and her family are about to move to the city, leaving grandma and all her other relatives behind. Lilli is frightened and sad at the move, but Grandma and Uncle Bernie make sure she will be looked after by sending a secret guardian angel with her in the form of a shadow that is part cat, part dingo. The shadow stays with Lilli so that she feels safe. He even comes with her to school in her backpack and she quickly makes her first friend. Lilli begins to enjoy her new life but when she hears Grandma isn’t well, she sends the shadow back to her in a fire ceremony with her parents and Grandma soon becomes better.

It is so easy to relate to the spirited Lilli and her fears in a story that is instantly engaging, but a real pleasure is in delving, just a little, in Aboriginal beliefs and storytelling.

When You Reach Me written by Rebecca Stead (Text Publishing) 8+

Miranda lives with her mum in New York City. It’s the 1970’s and strange things begin to disrupt her world. Her best friend Sal, who lives in the apartment below, has recently shunned her after he was punched by a kid for no reason. Enemies become friends, some adults begin to act weirdly and her mother, even though she desperately loves her boyfriend, won’t give him a key to their home. Miranda then begins receiving strange notes. The first one claims: ‘I have come to save your friend’s life, and my own.’ None of this makes sense to her and she desperately tries to work out what it all means. The second note says, ‘You must tell a story – a true story,’ even about things that have not happened yet. So Miranda begins writing, even though the notes she’s received fills her with a sense that something bad is about to happen. This is an intriguing book that draws you into the unravelling of its mystery and along the way, Miranda learns a little about her place in the world, that sometimes she needs to drop preconceptions about people to truly know them and that life, when you least expect it can be full of mystery and surprise.

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