A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge, Macmillan
Maybe this was sent for review because Macmillan still have a foothold in the New Zealand market… The award-winning author is very decidedly British, which comes through strongly in the plot and setting of this haunting YA novel.
Twelve-year-old Makepiece has a strange problem – if she’s anywhere near a dying person she risks the dying spirit taking up residence in her brain. In a country riven by civil war, there’s plenty of dying going on. Makepiece learns to prevent the spirits from entering her (mostly) but has trouble with the accidental arrival of an angry, mistreated bear spirit. The story bowls along at a great pace as Makepiece learns why she has this curse upon her, and does her best to avoid being taken over by a posse of ancient and evil spirits. It’s an excellent read for teens (and adults) who like a vivid and exciting blend of ghost tale and historical story.
ISBN 978 1509 869305 RRP $24.99 Pb
The Cleo Stories: Book Bag by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood, Allen and Unwin
The first two stories in this delightful Australian series have been packaged together into an enticing cardboard carry case. If you’ve forgotten them, the two titles are: The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and the Present, and The Cleo Stories: A Friend and a Pet. The first story was winner of the 2015 CBCA Book of the Year Award for Younger Readers. The two hardback books are beautifully presented, with softly-shaded pastel-coloured pictures on every page to entertain girls who are just on the borderline of reading for themselves. The warm-hearted stories about an enterprising young miss are written for girls of about five to eight, both early readers and not-quite-readers. My granddaughter falls into the second category, and these are her favourite books (when read to her by Mum or Dad).
The Book Bag would make a marvellous Christmas present for young primary-aged girls.
ISBN 9781760296971 RRP $24.99(AUD) Hb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman