Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans
|Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans
|Category: Confident Readers
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng
|Summary: A wonderful story full of interesting, quirky characters...perfect for lovers of magic, or those who just enjoy a good action, adventure and mystery story!
|Date: May 2011
|Publisher: Doubleday Children's Books
Poor Stuart Horten is rather small for his age. Unfortunately for him, if you put his initial with his surname it becomes 'shorten', which is just asking for trouble. Still, he's happy and has lots of friends. Or, at least, he does until his parents move house and he finds himself living in a strange town (his father's hometown) in the school holidays, looking at the prospect of a long, boring and lonely summer ahead of him. He soon discovers, however, that there is a mystery surrounding his family's history in the town, and it looks as though Stuart might just be the one to uncover what really happened...
I really enjoyed this story. Stuart is an interesting character and the story he finds himself caught up in is really well written. I don't want to give away too much but essentially he finds out that his father's uncle, Tony Horten, was an amazing magician, but that he disappeared (along with his fiancee) in mysterious circumstances many years ago.
Stuart slowly discovers more and more about his Great Uncle, following clues, figuring out puzzles, and tentatively begins to believe in magic. He is helped, along the way, by his new next-door neighbour April. They begin their friendship badly when April writes a newspaper article about accusing him of being a burglar or a vandal after seeing him sneaking into his Great Uncle's old house, but they soon find themselves in a mutually rewarding relationship since April is bored silly but quick-witted and cunning and Stuart needs all the help he can get with his mystery.
The friendship between the two characters works well, and I think the book would play well to either boys or girls reading it. There's an element of what some might refer to as 'mild peril'...nothing horrible happens but it's laced with tension in an exciting rather than scary way.
I liked the quirky sense of humour behind the writing. Stuart's father, a writer of difficult crosswords, made me laugh. There's also an intriguing interest in magic and illusions through the story. It's difficult to make something seem magical using written words, but Lissa Evans manages it, drawing you into the mystery and making you feel as if you're helping Stuart in his discoveries. The characters are fun and engaging and I found I couldn't predict the plot of what would happen and read on as eagerly as any ten-year-old would! The action cracks along at a good pace and is a brilliant pre-teen magical mystery story.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: For more exciting adventure you might enjoy The Mummy Snatcher of Memphis: A Kit Salter Adventure by Natasha Narayan. You might also like Big Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans and her later book Wished.
Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans is in the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2011.
Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans is in the Costa Prize 2011.
You can read more book reviews or buy Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans at Amazon.com.
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