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The Royal Rebel by Bali Rai
Princess Sophia Duleep Singh lives on an enormous estate in Suffolk. Her father has tuned it into an Indian palace with ornaments, exotic plants and animals including a bad-tempered baboon. Her grandfather had been a maharajah and ruler of the Sikh Indians and had fought off British invasion. However, things have started to go wrong for the family. Father is having to sell items from the house as he is in danger of being declared bankrupt and Mother won’t come out of her room. So Father decides to take the family to India. When they discover that they are not welcome there, they have to return home without Father but, with their beloved estate now sold to pay off debts, they have a turn to a rich relative for help – Queen Victoria. Despite her help, Sophia’s life goes from bad to worse. The once privileged young princess grows up to see the injustice that exists in the world and wants to do something about it - she becomes a suffragette.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story which is based on a real-life person. It was easy to read and moved seamlessly through the different periods of Sophia’s life to give an oversight of the hardships she had to endure despite her background. She is a really brave and strong character to have coped with all she had thrown at her as well as fight for causes she felt were right. She stood up for those people without a voice and left me feeling full of admiration for her.
The Queen’s Nose by Dick King-Smith
Harmony is a solitary child who sees people as animals. Her mother is a fussy Pouter Pigeon, her father a gruff Sea Lion and her sister Melody, a sleek, vain Siamese cat. Harmony’s best friend is her old stuffed dog Rex Ruff Monty with whom she spends all her time and has insightful one-way conversations. Mostly, Harmony wants a pet, an animal of her very own, but Harmony’s parents are not animal lovers. Enter Uncle Ginger (a silver tip grizzly) with a little bit of magic about him. Ginger notices that Harmony spends a lot of time wishing. He sends her on a treasure hunt, which disappointingly ends in finding a 50p piece. As you can imagine, this is no ordinary coin. It has the power to grant wishes. If only she can figure out how it works and, more importantly, what to wish for.
Dick King-Smith is recognised as the master of animal adventures; however, this is not a story about animals. In fact, Anita the rabbit is the only creature to feature before the final chapter. Harmony’s penchant for seeing people as animals is an endearing quality as is her fierce, independent single-mindedness. She knows what she wants and she knows what to do to get it. However, as the story progresses, the message changes from ‘wishes do come true’ to ‘be careful what you wish for.’ Ultimately, this is a story about growing up and learning that there may be more to people than meets the eye. This tale will please fans of Dick King-Smith and the uninitiated (like this reader) alike.
Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton
This is the first book in The Famous Five series. Julian, Dick and Anne travel to the coast to meet their cousin Georgina. However, Georgina – who likes to be known as George – certainly does not want to meet them! George is unfriendly and only wants to spend time with her dog, Timmy, and visit ‘her’ island – Kirrin Island. However, a storm reveals a secret that leads the Five on a hunt for treasure – will they find it?
The Famous Five series is a stalwart of children’s literature. This book was written 75 years ago and reflects a time when children had a lot more freedom and certainly no electronic devices to help them. The Famous Five have to rely on teamwork, intelligence and courage to meet their challenges. If you like adventure stories, then this is a great book for you – and there are also twenty more books! The story is well-paced and the setting of an island on a rugged coastline make it interesting.