The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mystery by Deborah Abela

xthe-most-marvellous-spelling-bee-mystery.jpg.pagespeed.ic.zY67unNXclTitle: The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mystery

Author: Deborah Abela

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Penguin-Random House Australia

Published: 30th April 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 240

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Just when India Wimple’s life is returning to normal after competing in the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee, she’s invited to London for an international spelling showdown. But how can she go without her family? The Yungabilla community might have a solution!

In London, India is reunited with her friends Rajish and Summer. They meet new spellers, and are invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen.

But there is skulduggery afoot, with a series of mysterious mishaps. There is even talk of cancelling the competition altogether.

India and her friends are determined to find out who the culprit is and get the spelling bee back on track.

There are words to be spelled, nerves to be overcome, and a champion to be found!

~*~

India Wimple is trying to relax after returning from a trip to Sydney to the National Spelling Bee, an adventure covered in The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee– which after reading this one, I want to read myself, when she receives a letter from London inviting her to the International Spelling Bee – with two other people from Australia. The top three winners of national spelling bees from each participating country will attend. But first, India and her family have to get to London – all of them! Once in London, India and her friends, Rajish and Summer, new spellers to meet – Holly Trifle and Peter Eriksson – and a mystery to solve! Who wants to ruin the spelling bee, and why? After meeting the Queen, and seeing Buckingham Palace, the first round is postponed – and then the finale is threatened. Between studying new words, adventures around London, and Holly’s rather embarrassing parents – will India and her friends solve the mystery so the spelling bee can go on and the winner can be announced?

AWW-2018-badge-roseThis was a delightful surprise from Penguin Random House this month, a very fun read, because it used words and a mystery in the story – two of my favourite things. Each chapter header has a word at the top, with the type of word it is – verb, noun, and so forth, a definition, and its usage – a great way to get kids to enjoy and learn spelling whilst reading a fun and engaging story with great diversity and lots of fun. Deborah Abela has fun with alliteration and strange but interesting names – Harrington Hathaway III, for example. The text is peppered with spelling, definitions and new words for readers to learn – Roald Dahl even gets a mention with some of his splendiferous words from his books such as The BFG.

Each character had their own quirks – which made it fun as well. I loved India and Rajish the most, and their families who were wonderfully supportive of Rajish and India, and each other throughout. Holly was another favourite – a character reminiscent of Matilda Wormwood, whose family doesn’t always appreciate her – but making friends might just change this. Peter was amazing – the type of character that many can relate to, and Summer was amusing and frustrating, though more amusing. It was delightful to see the growth of the characters throughout the book, and the solidifying of their friendship founded on a common interest.

The mystery in this book was a fun mystery, and the kind that kids might find they wish they could encounter for themselves – it had lashes of the Famous Five as well, with five children uncovering a dastardly plot to ruin their beloved spelling bee, meeting the Queen and making life-long friends – a very well written book and one that I devoured in a couple of sittings. In the end, it was friendship that I think is the more powerful message this book sends to it readers.

This is just the sort of book I would have loved as a child – and still love now, because it is about words, and books and spelling. I hope many other readers of all ages enjoy this book and find that they can relate to one or all of the characters.

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The Farm At The Edge of The World by Sarah Vaughan

isbn9781444792294

 

 

I received a copy from the publisher for review

 

Title: The Farm At The Edge of The World

Author: Sarah Vaughan

Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction

Publisher: Hachette/Hodder and Stoughton

Published: 28/6/2016

RRP: $32.99

Format: Paperback

Pages: 400

 

Synopsis: 1939, and Will and Alice are evacuated to a granite farm in north Cornwall, perched on a windswept cliff. There they meet the farmer’s daughter, Maggie, and against fields of shimmering barley and a sky that stretches forever, enjoy a childhood largely protected from the ravages of war.

 

 

But in the sweltering summer of 1943 something happens that will have tragic consequences. A small lie escalates. Over 70 years on Alice is determined to atone for her behaviour – but has she left it too late?

 

 

2014, and Maggie’s granddaughter Lucy flees to the childhood home she couldn’t wait to leave thirteen years earlier, marriage over; career apparently ended thanks to one terrible mistake. Can she rebuild herself and the family farm? And can she help her grandmother, plagued by a secret, to find some lasting peace?

 

 

This is a novel about identity and belonging; guilt, regret and atonement; the unrealistic expectations placed on children and the pain of coming of age. It’s about small lies and dark secrets. But above all it’s about a beautiful, desolate, complex place.

 

~*~

 

The Farm at The Edge of the World tells a dual story about the same family. Maggie’s story spans seventy years, and is intermingled with the contemporary story of her granddaughter, Lucy. Lucy has escaped to the farm after a relationship breakdown and is on leave from work after making an error that could have had disastrous consequences.

The intrigue of the novel is woven throughout the narrative, switching back and forth at the right time to keep the reader engaged. The use of different tenses for the different time periods is effective, allowing the reader to take note of the past versus the present. As Maggie recalls the days of the war and the presence of the evacuees, Will and Alice, and what led to a betrayal that could never be forgiven, Maggie’s granddaughter, Lucy, hopes a visit to the farm will help her work out what she needs to do with her life, and help her heal some wounds from a broken marriage and near-tragic mistake.

Over the course of the book, both Maggie and Lucy grapple with secrets and struggles that have made them who they are, and impact their emotions in the book. The opening of the book invites the reader into the mystery, wanting to know more as the story unfolds. As the book climaxes, and secrets come out, the family begins to heal and understand what has driven Maggie to want to keep the farm, rather than sell it. When reading this story, I was transported to a part of the world I wish to visit, and to a past time when expectations were different, when war plagued the world but human emotions and desires were very much the same.

Reading this book was a joy, and not quite what I expected, but in a good way: it had history, romance, conflict – a variety of themes that created a well-rounded story, that had more motives for the characters to give them more drive, which made reading it a delight and far too easy to keep reading late into the night. Sarah Vaughan has written a beautiful novel. Using World War Two, and the evacuee situation as a backdrop made the novel enjoyable.