Books for Children / Teenage fiction: Four

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REVIEWS FROM HOMEWOOD SCHOOL

TENTERDEN, KENT

Someone Came Knocking by Anne Merrick, Spindlewood pounds 9.95. A boy called Tod decides to leave his brutal, drunken father and embarks upon a treacherous journey accompanied by his Guy Fawkes guy, Mimosa. Mimosa has the strange ability to speak and guides Tod to his destination of 'Over the hills and far away' by quizzing him in fairytale rhyme. A good beginning, which sadly deteriorates as the story becomes increasingly predictable. For 11-14s. Ellen Parton (15)

Breaking Point by Anne Bailey, Faber pounds 9.99. Anna comes from a close-knit family which is torn apart by her father's affair. When he moves out, she thinks her problems are solved, living in her own mentally tormented world. The issues of self-abuse, anorexia and intense mood swings are touched upon, and the author really grasps the ups and downs of a struggling teenage mind. Amber McKenzie (15)

Me, Duncan and the Great Hippopotamus Scandal by Jan Dean, Oxford pounds 8.99. With a name like Maldwyn Gerioneth Davies, how can you expect not to be picked on by the school bully? Maldwyn (Molly) falls for one of the bully's jokes and, after serious strife with the headmaster, gets his revenge on the Big Dobber, but is gobsmacked by his success. Very entertaining, with chapter titles to blow your mind. Esme King (15)

Then Came the Liars, Then Came the Fools by Anna McLeay, Bodley Head pounds 8.99. In the depressed North of England live Leila and her family. Life is tough, but Leila is happy enough. Then the strange Mr Silverman, owner of a travelling freak show, tells her she has special powers, which she decides to put to the test. This book takes you on a compelling, psychological rollercoaster ride through the confused mind of a young teenage girl. Suited to 14- to 16-year-olds, as it may leave the reader a little shaken. Jennie Sanders (15)

The Smoking Gun by Malcolm Rose, Scholastic pounds 2.99. The story kicks off at Ros and David's Sports Day, when their grandfather dies. Before passing away, he tells his grandson what brought on his heart attack and the mystery starts to unwind. The narrative focuses on Ros's actions and emotions, but she shows remarkable lack of strain considering the number of deaths which have occurred in her family. If you were told the twist at the end, you could write the latter half of the book just as capably as the author. Sophie Honeysett (15)

Hiding Out by Elizabeth Laird, Heinemann pounds 9.99. Peter Castle adores escaping into his fantastical world. One summer, he tugs a little too hard upon the strings of fate and finds himself lost in France, with no food, money or means of communication with the country's citizens. A confused and anxious young boy has to face up to the consequence of his own intrigue. A thought-provoking adventure. Hayley Smith (15)

Green Willow's Secret by Eileen Dunlop, Blackie pounds 8.99. Kit, an adopted child, has recently lost her sister, the natural child of her parents. She can't help guiltily feeling glad that she no longer has to compete. The family moves to a new home, and, while exploring, Kit discovers a Japanese garden and a ghostly photograph. Elements of surprise are cleverly woven into the plot making it fast, interesting reading, but the book ends on far too sentimental a note. Ambika De Villeneuve (15)

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