Taking Flight, by Sheena Wilkinson (Little Island; €9.99) Fifteen-year-old Declan lives with his wastrel mother, whose life is dominated by booze. She will go with the lowest of the low to get it.
At the other end of the scale is his cousin, Vicky, whose upper-class life is a hedonistic round of posh school friends, parties and horse-riding.
When Declan’s mum is hospitalised, his wealthy aunt takes him in. Spoilt Vicky resents this lower-class boy in her home, and shows it. Between his rough school and coming home to Vicky’s hurtful remarks, Declan is in despair, until the day he is taken to the stables to meet Vicky’s horse, Flight.
His love for Flight gives him a new focus in life. But can Vicky tolerate this? Will Declan’s hope of riding the magnificent horse ever be realised?
The alternate first-person narrations, by Vicky and Declan, give us a vivid insight into these two contrasting protagonists. This is not just a ‘horsey’ book, but a finely structured novel, with compelling characters, that will hold the reader throughout. Suitable for young adults.
Boffin Brainchild, by Jill Jennings (Natterjack; €7.30)
When young Tom visits a Science Museum exhibition that features a super-clever robot, little does he think that the robot will inveigle its way into his home, and, more importantly into his affections.
Tom strives to hide the identity of his mystery guest from his parents, who are relieved that he has brought a friend home. When Boffin Brainchild insists on accompanying Tom to school, the challenge is to disguise him as an ordinary student — this becomes a problem when the bully, Jack, tries to engage the robot in conversation. The humour centres around Boffin’s inability to understand colloquial expressions and metaphorical language.
Chaos ensues when Boffin wants to swim , with potentially disastrous consequences as Jack pushes him into the water. When the ‘lifeless’ Boffin is rescued from the water, Tom’s parents now realise that this is the robot stolen from the museum.
Soon, Tom is confronted by the police and Boffin’s furious inventor. This is a funny, heart-warming story, which surely merits a sequel.
Suitable for age 10 and upwards.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved