Dappled Annie and the Tigrish by Mary McCallum, Gecko Press
It pays to consider Gecko Press’s tagline when reading their books: “curiously good books”. This is another story which I would label “good” and “curious”. Good because it’s delicately and sensitively written (the style reminded me of Margaret Mahy) and curious because it doesn’t belong to the mainstream genres currently being published by the commercial publishers. It’s the kind of book that used to be published by Longacre and Cole Catley (both gone now). So all praise to Gecko Press for slipping into this niche.
This is an intriguing little fantasy that moves in and out of reality until the reader gives up wondering which is which and just goes with the flow. Annie is a lighthouse child - her father tends an unspecified lighthouse - so this gives a vague indication of when the story is set. She’s obviously an imaginative child, and the story takes us deep into a fantasy world where hedges talk and walk, and a mythical tiger-like creature flies through the sky, taking Annie on a rescue mission. But whether it’s Annie’s made-up world or a “real” world, the reader simply can’t tell.
The production of the book is worth mentioning - it’s a paperback with flaps, and contains cosy illustrations by Annie Hayward (both black pen drawings and colour plates).
I don’t see boys reading this story (too fanciful for them?), but it could appeal to girls of about 8 to 10 who love reading and writing stories about fairies and little people living in the garden.
ISBN 978 1 877579 91 2 $19.99 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman