Six Words and a Wish by Karen McCombie

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Six Words and a Wish by Karen McCombie

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: As always, Karen McCombie gives us a funny, sweet and heart-warming tale of a young girl trying to cope with growing up.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: May 2011
Publisher: Scholastic
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1407107882

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Jem has a dad who's a clown, a best friend who's a hypochondriac, a house where it's always Christmas, and a sister who's missing – or is she? Gracie left home after something Jem said, and the younger girl has always wondered whether she's to blame for her big sister's disappearance. When her mother receives a present from Gracie on her birthday, she thinks she might finally be able to ask her. As well as hoping her sister returns, Jem also tries to form a band, helps her dad do his clown shows, and may even have found a cute boy she likes…

This is the kind of book which a seasoned fan of Karen McCombie's, like myself, could recognise within a few pages even if they haven't known who the author was beforehand. Iris, Jem's best friend who starts the book desperately worried she can feel a squeak in her knee, and Jem's dad who leaves the Christmas decorations up all year round, are vintage McCombie characters – sweet, funny, but always believable, if rather bizarre. Despite Gracie's disappearance, the relationship between Jem, her parents, and her friends is a really strong and touching one. I felt that Jem was a particularly strong central character – torn between fear that she'd been responsible for her sister leaving, and anger at Gracie walking out of her family's life. I also loved the way McCombie used flashbacks to gradually develop both the relationship between the sisters and the circumstances in which Gracie left. Oh, and as always for her, there's engaging dialogue – I particularly liked the bit where Jem asked Iris how a knee could squeak, and the later scene in which she responds to some rude boys by threatening to set her rabbit on them!

Similarly to the rest of Karen McCombie's books, this is a gentle and entertaining read which will appeal especially to girls who are in or about to enter their early teens but is well written enough to engage older children as well.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: For me the two authors who stand head and shoulders above everyone else I've read writing this kind of humorous story for young teenage girls are McCombie herself and Cathy Hopkins. Anyone who enjoys this is sure to be a fan of Million Dollar Mates by Cathy Hopkins as well, and between the two of them there's a huge amount of books to check out, all of which are well worth reading. You might also enjoy The Breakfast Club by Kate Costelloe.

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Buy Six Words and a Wish by Karen McCombie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Six Words and a Wish by Karen McCombie at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Six Words and a Wish by Karen McCombie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Six Words and a Wish by Karen McCombie at


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