Books for Children / Teenage Fiction: Three

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Troy by Jaye Francis, Puffin pounds 3.99. In an attempt to catch a homeless thief named Dred, 'cool dude' Troy Harper and his know-all friend Jonathan chance upon Kristi Morgan, the girl of their dreams. The three embark on an adventure of love, hate and rivalry to find Dred and protect him from a dangerous master of disguise. This lively Australian story reflects the changing emotions of teenage life and makes an enjoyable read for 12-15s. Alex Massey (13)

Raven by Anthony Masters, Viking pounds 8.99. An ancient wizard is determined to destroy mankind by means of four sinister birds - Raven, Owl, Crow and Eagle. The story begins with the burial of the magician Gelert in AD 842. It then jumps to 1992, when Gelert's body is discovered, and tells how a visiting American boy, Sean, finds he has to destroy the evil birds and break Gelert's curse. The climax is Sean's fight with Gelert but the reader is never sure whether good has triumphed. What about a sequel? Ian Anderson (13)

The Amazing Witherspoon's Amazing Circus Crew by Andrew Gibson, Faber pounds 9.99. Jo is a young girl who lives with her alcoholic father on the Hulks, a small row of houses on the edge of a vast piece of wasteland called the Bodge. One day, Jo's father receives a letter stating that all the inhabitants must leave the Hulks to make way for a super-modern housing development. That same day a circus arrives, and the performers decide to join the Hulks dwellers to fight the Battle of the Bodge. I enjoyed the book a lot. My favourite character was Hieronymus, the brains behind the circus, who has 12 senses] Up to age 12. Daniel Matlin (11)



The Flower King by Lesley Howarth, Walker pounds 4.99. The young boy who tells this story seems normal, but his ability to see people's emotions through colours affects him greatly. Over the weeks he becomes increasingly entangled in the tale of the Flower King. This book is very easy reading, often quite funny. Suitable for 11-year-olds. Angela Bachini (14)

Thirty-Six Hours by Margaret Shaw, Oxford pounds 8.99. Student nurse Kate is unable to decide whether to join her hospital's strike. She is assisted in this decision by the journal of nurse Verity Burton, written at the time of the Crimean War. A parallel story develops which, although rather sentimental, is curiously satisfying. For 12 to 15s. Lizzie Bloom (15)

The Last Week in December by Ursula Dubosarsky,

Penguin pounds 3.50. Bella is troubled by a guilty secret of something she did a few years ago which she fears will be found out. She is only 11, but she is old enough to know what she did was wrong. Bella's personality and problems are all too believable and the author portrays them well. You could read this book over and over and still not get bored. Heather Darlington (12)

Rich Little Poor Girl by James Connelly, Book Guild pounds 11.95. Robert Stone is about to embark on his summer holiday. Instead of going to Disneyland with his parents, his father decides to take them to Thailand on business. Robert's initial disappointment soon goes when he meets Dounjai, a young Thai girl. They fall in love, and are hardly apart during the holiday. The book offers a sensitive insight into Thai life,

and deals tenderly with the love between people of completely different backgrounds. Sophia Matthew (14)

The Forest Wife by Theresa Tomlinson, Julia MacRae pounds 8.99. Some books have a message, some are just pretty stories. This is one of the latter. During the reign of Richard the Lionheart, Marian, a 15-year-old girl, runs away to a forest to escape marriage to an old man, and finds that in spite of harsh conditions, evil sheriffs and so forth, she makes friends, learns to fend for herself and even falls in lurve. I found this book a bit sentimental, and didn't like the olde worlde speech. The defiant, noble heroine was irritating, too. Alex McRae (13)

The Bully by Jan Needle, Hamish Hamilton pounds 8.99. An

engaging, fast-moving story of a young boy, Simon, who is caught up in a tangle of vicious bullying and calculated deceit, the seriousness of which no one comprehends. It is the final straw when his assailants try to pin the blame on him and even Simon's own mother won't believe his story. An easy but exciting read for anyone up to 13. Claudia Spawls (14)

The Mennyms by Sylvia Waugh, Julia MacRae pounds 9.99. This lively, humorous book tells the story of a family of life-size rag dolls who take over a house at 5 Brocklehurst Grove that an old lady, known as Aunt Kate, previously lived in. The Mennyms try to live their life as much as possible like a flesh- and-blood family, though in a pretend world. But, as the book unfolds, the Mennyms are faced with reality. I found the story quite gripping at times. Chloe Read (12)