The Girl Who Walked on Air
by Emma Carroll
(Faber& Faber; €8.80).
The story set in a Victorian circus tells of the ambitions of Louie to become a famous tightrope walker like the Great Blondin. She had been abandoned by her mother but reared by Jasper a trapeze artist. Though Louie is multitalented and courageous, the circus owner, seems unwilling to allow her take on dangerous stunts. Heartbreaking though it is for her to leave the now seriously injured Jasper, her frustration sees her stow away on a liner to America. There she is at the mercy of an unscrupulous and cruel manager who also wants her to better the exploits of Blondin. The circus characters and life in a Victorian circus with its attendant dangers are well drawn. Though slow initially, the story is a compelling tale of a feisty girl, her topsy-turvy relationship with young fellow artiste Gabriel, and her search for a mother whose absence has been keenly felt all her life. Age 10 upwards.
Now You See Me...... by Emma Haughton (Usborne; €8.80). This is a story suffused with searing loss and heartbreak. Hannah’s friend Danny Glover disappeared three years previously and both Hannah and Danny’s mother blame themselves for his disappearance. It is a double trauma for Hannah as her mother died some years ago and her family are still coming to terms with this loss. Hannah tries to help Danny’s family, especially Ally, his Down Syndrome sister who misses him intensely. The psychological thriller, told in various time-frames, twists and turns in the most unexpected ways as Hannah tries to understand Danny’s disappearance. The more she probes, the more she realises there are family issues between her’s and Danny’s family, which nobody appears willing to discuss. Both Ally and her family dog Rudman prove to be excellent judges of character when a stranger seems to have solved the mystery. Though we only see the characters through Hannah’s eyes, they prove to be both complex and credible. A quite extraordinary tale, which is inspired by a true story, and, what a surprising ending! Age 12 and upwards.
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