Locked Out Lily by Nick Lake and Emily Gravett
|Locked Out Lily by Nick Lake and Emily Gravett|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: What looks an ungainly melange of girl-on-fantasy-quest-with-animal-companions and real life drama can be a gallingly good read at times. And with Ms Gravett's help never begins to look ungainly.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: September 2021|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's UK|
Lily is, or was, or has been, very ill, and to give her parents relief she's been told to stay with her grandma for a few days. The parents need the relief as Lily's baby sibling is just about to be born – a child Lily swears she hates already and wants nothing to do with. But on tracking back home for word of her parents (and her plush toy so she can sleep) she finds stony-eyed simulacra of her parents, and the babe-in-arms, already installed. These devilish interlopers need to be ousted to get the family back intact, even if it's not the family Lily wants – and all she has to help her in the task are some talking animals – Crow, Mole, Mouse and Snake.
This has a peculiar elevator pitch, then – Coraline in the Willows, perhaps. That's not to say the critters go round here in motorcars or things – no, they more or less bicker and quibble about being differently abled. But they are firm characters, all with the intent on helping Lily in her locked-out situation. I guess they provide for a certain sense of humour, too, but for much of this I could take or leave that. What I did like was the way this short novel jumped straight into the action, action that still managed to hold on to ancient lore regarding keeping ill from our homes, and where magic comes from.
But ultimately it is about family. Lily's illness and her hating the idea she might lose her place in the parental affections top and tail this novel, meaning you get a heck of a lot of fantasy drama, and a heck of a lot of relatable, hard-hitting emotion when called for. It's a quite splendid mix, all told – a very readable book covering serious topics with, yes, a Mole demanding a change in diet from just worms, and a Mouse trying very hard to be brave. And yes, that is an ungainly mix, so just think on how much conviction must be on the page for me to rate it as I did. has regaled us with many teen books before now, Whisper to Me being the most recent. A very different inter-family problem can be had with the superlative Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep by Philip Reeve.
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