I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson (Electric Monkey, €9.20)
The reason Jemma has no secrets is that everything in her mind is locked in as she can’t communicate with anybody.
=Her intelligence is highly honed, and her cerebral palsy doesn’t mean that she can’t experience the full range of emotions, even in the midst of a family of fostered children who all have issues of their own.
Jemma is vitally attached to her minder Sarah and is deeply distrustful of Sarah’s boyfriend Dan, who tells her a dreadful secret — that he has murdered somebody.
When Sarah goes missing Jemma is distraught, not helped by a stay in hospital which meant she missed an appointment with a specialist who might have had a revolutionary way for her to communicate.
All around her the interplay between the family members is brilliantly portrayed. Joelson’s major achievement is letting us experience the thought-process, emotions and frustrations of a teenager with cerebral palsy.
How infuriating when a policeman asks, ‘Is she compos mentis?’, and to have other adults irritatingly speak about her as if she wasn’t there. Suitable for age nine and up.
Keepsake by Paula Leyden (Little Island,€6.99)
There is a major gap in young Ella’s life — her father has separated from her mother and is now working in Australia, with no immediate prospect of his returning.
She finds solace staying at her gran’s house in the country and is fascinated one day to find a beautiful horse called Storm in a nearby field. On a subsequent visit to the horse she spots a boy called Johnny who seems to be the owner.
They eventually become friends and are both devastated when the horse is taken at night to the local pound. To release the horse would mean paying €900, which on principle her gran would not pay, and Johnny’s father could not afford.
This was not the first time that the pound had swooped on travellers’ ponies — this time illegally. The splendidly researched story deals with prejudice and the importance of breaking barriers down.
The tension is maintained to the end in a tale of compassion and perseverance. Age nine+.
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