Once again, I have to start a review with the admission that I know the writer of this book. In fact, I feel as though I'm a kind of godmother to the story, as Sue showed me an early version ages ago and I liked it then. I like it even better now in its new manifestation as a well-produced paperback with excellent illustrations by Heather Dickinson and I applaud Sue's decision to publish the book herself and try and get it to as many children as possible. I'm happy to help in this process as I think there are lots of boys, especially, out there who would both identify with and enjoy this book.
It's about what happens when Rafi, (who has problems with reading and writing and even worse problems with his teacher Horrible Hegarty) meets a girl in the park. She has pink hair and she's the Candy Floss Kid. She shakes up Rafi's thoughts and opinions about everything. She has even worse problems than Rafi, and the two of them have a series of adventures which not only take them round various parts of Manchester (all of which was very nostalgic for me!) but also teach them much about subjects as disparate as the Russian Revolution, cartoons,voodoo, and the way the Social Services work.
Stern is good at dialogue. The boys and girls you'll meet here sound normal and unbookish. She's also good at conveying the many different relationships that exist in young people's lives: with parents, siblings, teachers, friends, enemies and so forth. The place comes to life very well and I can vouch for the accuracy of many of the descriptions, especially that of the park where Rafi and the Candy Floss Kid meet. The horrible teacher is well done and we get a reason for her horribleness towards the end of the book which doesn't quite excuse the way she acts towards Rafi but which at least explains it.
I think this would be a good addition to any school bookshelf and I would urge anyone who has what's called "a reluctant reader' in their family to buy it too. It's enjoyable, well-written, entertaining and about serious things that matter. I'm happy to be able to recommend it in this review.
Published in paperback by RED BANK BOOKS. From Amazon or from the publisher (80 Fog Lane, Didsbury, Manchester M20 6AG)
The book is also available on Kindle.
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