Author: A. M. Howell
I was fortunate enough to win a copy of this fabulous book and am so pleased I did – it was a timeless read and will be enjoyed by children across Key Stage Two and beyond. Set during WW1 it really reminded me of The Secret Garden (not just because of the name) and if you enjoyed that, you will love this. It was published by Usborne in June 2019 and was inspired by the discovery of a 100-year-old notebook at Ickworth House in Suffolk.
The book follows the adventures of Clara as she is sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle – who live and work in a stately home. Secrets (and the impact of keeping them) are a common theme throughout the story – both those Clara has taken with her and others she discovers in the grounds – and there are many twists and mysteries to keep even the most restless of readers captivated.
As with any good story, Clara develops a blossoming friendship with an unlikely comrade and finds comfort in this, as her relationship with her aunt and uncle does not unfold as she had hoped. There are disasters, promises, difficult decisions and pineapples throughout. (Yes.. pineapples! You’ll see why when you read it.)
I can see that this book will capture the imagination of readers 8+ as they wonder what they would have done in the same situations, try to solve the conundrums themselves and dream of their own late-night wanderings and detective work. It also inspired me to find out more about that era and the plights (and heroics) of people with different roles, relationships and status during the war.