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Violet is very excited. She has finally grown sufficiently to be eligible for a scary ride called Plunger at her family's local theme park. She persuades her parents to take her there, accompanied reluctantly by her teenage sister... then, just as they are about to get on the ride, the fulfillment of Violet's dreams, she starts to shrink. And finds herself staring face-to-face with a worm.

Shrinking Violet by Lou Kuenzler

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Buy Shrinking Violet by Lou Kuenzler at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: An exciting story about a girl who discovers a strange tendency that makes life rather difficult for a while. Suitable for confident readers from about six to ten.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 218 Date: July 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781407130040

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People of my generation will remember the Mrs Pepperpot stories with some fondness; they featured an elderly woman who would shrink, from time to time, to the size of a pepperpot. Violet is a modern and much younger version, designed to appeal to today's children who like active and exciting stories. This one is full of action - not just Violet's desperation to stay alive in a busy park when she is only a few inches tall, but her determination to prove her grandmother innocent of a raft of burglaries that have taken place at the Old Folks' home.

Violet is a likeable child, and we see most of the story from her perspective. She has a love-hate relationship with her sister, and a very special friendship with her grandmother which is strengthened during this book. The writing is fast-paced without being exhausting, and there are even a few ethical issues that might lead to useful discussion - how to cope when nobody believes what a child is saying, and when it's acceptable to spy on someone. Like Mrs Pepperpot, the story is set in the real world with just the one fantasy element, and some amusingly caricatured people.

I have to admit I wasn't all that impressed, when I first opened the book, to see that it had several words in LARGE CAPITALS, many of them in unusual fonts. That kind of thing makes a book harder to read, in my view, and is rather irritating. But it didn't take me long to become interested in the story, which I enjoyed very much. I then showed it to a six-and-three-quarter-year-old friend who reads avidly, and asked her what she thought of the words in large fonts. She said that she liked the look of them, took the book from me, and read the first two chapters with her eyes wide. She lifted her head to say that it was a GREAT book, and could she please borrow it.

So, evidently it gets a thumbs up from at least one girl in the target audience, which would seem to be newly confident readers. I wouldn't like to read it aloud - those capitals and odd fonts would jar - even though the story itself appealed to me. However the book is entirely appropriate for even quite young children who can read for themselves, while having sufficient action and excitement to appeal to children up to, perhaps, nine or ten. Although it has over 200 pages, there aren't many words to a page so it's not a long book.

Many thanks to the publishers for sending the review copy to The Bookbag.

A child who enjoys this book would probably like the classic Mrs Pepperpot series by Alf Proysen, mentioned above. Most of the books by Dick King-Smith could also appeal, or perhaps Someday Angeline by Louis Sachar

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Buy Shrinking Violet by Lou Kuenzler at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shrinking Violet by Lou Kuenzler at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Shrinking Violet by Lou Kuenzler at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shrinking Violet by Lou Kuenzler at Amazon.com.

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