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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Review: The Great Ice Cream Heist by Elen Caldecott

Great fun kids' adventure from a skilled writer of family drama


Elen Caldecott is one of the best writers of kids' contemporary adventures. She excels at writing sympathetically and not patronisingly about kids in non-traditional family situations, giving them interesting adventures so that the point of the story is not "look, here's a kid from a non-traditional family", but rather "here's a kid doing X".

I especially like the anti-judgmental message in this novel, in which our main character, Eva, has new neighbours whom everyone knows are trouble. Eva's view is different - she finds their loud and chaotic family intriguing, in contrast to her own very quiet and calm family: just her and her very protective Dad.

The plot is engaging, mostly because Eva and Jamie and those around them are entirely convincing and interesting characters. We can't help but feel sorry for Eva, keen to please her Dad but also to have a life of her own. And Jamie, seen through Eva's eyes as he escapes by lying on shed roof, is endearing and engaging in his own right. There are some genuinely funny moments, and plenty of points where we're worried for the characters and all seems doomed. The chase scene alluded to in the title and on the cover, is a fabulous climax.

Overall, I would absolutely recommend this for 9-12s, especially those who enjoy character-led adventures.

From the Back Cover

'Those McIntyres are nothing but trouble!' When the McIntyre family moves in next door, Eva is intrigued - it is the first interesting thing to happen for ages. But her ever protective Dad - even more protective since Eva's mum died - does not agree. And the McIntyres are certainly noisy! But Eva is curious about Jamie, who she often sees on the roof of his garden shed, escaping the family chaos.

Then Eva gets to know Jamie a bit better. And when he is accused of vandalising the local park, Eva is sure he didn't do it. It is up to Eva to stick up for him - but then Jamie disappears. Eva is now in a race against time, which snowballs into a helterskelter race with a 'borrowed' ice cream van, lots of irate keep-fit enthusiasts and lashings of ice-cream!

A warm, funny adventure about sticking up for your friends.

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Publishing 6 June by Bloomsbury
My grateful thanks go to the publishers for providing me with a review copy via Netgalley

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