Sunday, May 10, 2009

Children’s Books: Cicada Summer by Kate Constable

Kate Constable, the Tamora Pierce of Australian YA fantasy, is back after two mainstream YA novels for Allen and Unwin’s Girlfriend Fiction imprint. The Girlfriend books were good enough, but fantasy is what this author does best, so her return to the fantastical is very welcome.

Unlike the Chanters Of Tremaris series, Cicada Summer (Allen & Unwin) is set firmly in present-day Australia, complete with drought. It has some elements of Tom’s Midnight Garden and Bid Time Return, but gives the time travel theme a twist. I won’t say more about this lest I spoil the ending.

Eloise, a gifted artist who has “gone quiet” after losing her mother in a car accident, has been taken back to her father’s home town in country Victoria, and left with her crotchety grandmother, Mo. Mo has been writing a book about sea voyages for 20 years, despite never having seen the sea, and has panic attacks on leaving the house and yard. She isn’t crazy about having her granddaughter stay, but feels Eloise is better off with her than with her father, who is throwing all his energies into building a convention center in the town.

Exploring, Eloise visits the huge house owned by her father’s family, which is falling to pieces, and finds herself travelling to a time when the house is an artist’s retreat run by a family with a daughter about her own age, Anna. To her surprise, Eloise finds herself becoming Anna’s imaginary friend, whom only Anna can see or hear. Could Anna be her mother? Eloise doesn’t know, but she does start talking again, if only with Anna. Meanwhile, can she stop her father and his latest girlfriend from tearing down the old house for a convention center?

As well as being a good story, this warm-hearted, gentle tale has plenty of meat for class discussion.

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Anonymous JK said...

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Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 2:07:00 AM PDT  

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