The Mermaid Call

The Mermaid Call
Alex Cotter
Nosy Crow

This tale of acceptance and bravery, and a multitude of mysteries, offers an entirely new take on mermaids, and with folklore seamlessly woven into the plot, it’s utterly compelling. The voice is that of Vivien; she lives with her grandmother Mimi, who runs a tourist shop, Enchanted Tails, that pays homage to the legend of the Mermaid of the Lake. Other places also rely on the legend of Lake Splendour: Vivien’s friend Eleni’s family owns the chip shop and another friend, Erik’s Dad works in the tourist office, both of which count on tourists for extra trade. Then there’s the traditional Mermaid Crown competition and costume parade soon to be held unless MPs get their way.

Vivien hopes her mum will arrive in time to see her race in the lake; she’s not been home for three years but she’s in for a disappointment when her mother cancels unaccountably, making her daughter’s level of self confidence plummet. Add to that her best friend’s developing friendship with member of the cool crowd, Hero, and the fact that Vivien now feels she falls well short of her glamorous mum’s idea of beauty, she couldn’t feel much lower. It’s only in the water she feels mermaid-like.

So when Vivien meets Alice de Lacey from the big house it feels as though she’s been thrown a life-line, especially as she starts falling out with her old friends Eleni and Erik. But Alice draws Vivien into a very risky adventure and they discover way more than they ever imagined.

At the heart of this wonderful, thought-provoking story is the importance of being true to oneself, standing up for what you believe in, what real friendship means and being kind not only to those around you, but essentially, to yourself –something that’s vital for good mental health. Dive deep the author urges us, don’t rely on shallow superficiality be it related to gender, history or your essential self.

Another unmissable, unputdownable winner from Alex Cotter.

The House on the Edge / A Monster Ate My Packed Lunch

These are two smashing books recently published by Nosy Crow – thanks for sending them for review

The House on the Edge
Alex Cotter

Faith’s dad has disappeared. What has happened to him and why has he left the family – mum (who’s now staying in bed all day), Faith the narrator, and her younger brother Noah – in an old house (the Lookout) perched atop a crumbling cliff?

When a crack appears on the cliffside Faith watches it growing larger day by day. She’s also trying her utmost to hold things together and that entails looking after her mum and staying out of trouble at school. Then, when Noah’s teacher asks to speak to their mother as she’s concerned about the boy, Faith fears things are about to come unravelled. She’s increasingly worried too about the boy’s talk of a sea ghost in the cellar searching for lost treasure; and to make things worse her Uncle keeps nosing around in the house.

Worse still is when Noah disappears causing Faith to have second thoughts about the possibility of ghosts. Is there any chance at all she can find her brother and bring her father back before all she cares about crashes into the sea down below.

Wonderfully written, with Faith’s gripping first person narrative encompassing feelings of exasperation and love, ordinary commonplace things, alarm and panic, with some humour too, this is a smashing book about families and what binds them together as well as an exciting mystery. Altogether a cracking debut for author Alex Cotter.

A Monster Ate My Packed Lunch
Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Thomas Flintham

Giggles guaranteed in this latest deliciously daft adventure from team Butchart and Flintham.

Now Izzy, her classmates and teachers are off on an activities school trip to Big Lake. The to-do list includes a nature walk, raft-building, a ropes course and a tug of war, but Gary Petrie is much more excited about the fact that the lodges they’re staying in have slippers and robes.

The lake itself is deep, dark and a tad scary, not least because Ranger Tam starts talking about the presence of a hundred year old monster therein – and he’s not joking!

Investigations are the order of the day among the children – or maybe that should be the order of the night. By all accounts said monster is hungry and on the lookout for food, food like their packed lunches – sandwiches and crisps in particular. Perhaps it even eats teachers?

Full of splendidly silly scenarios vividly imagined by Pamela Butchart with her brilliant knack of presenting things from the child’s perspective and their propensity to get carried away, along with a wealth of appropriately wacky illustrations by Thomas Flintham, this is perfect for solo readers who like a longish, highly illustrated story with plenty of melodrama.