The Accidental Stowaway by Judith Eagle

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The Accidental Stowaway by Judith Eagle

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Full of adventure and fun, I was caught up in the mystery elements of this story, and I really wanted to take a trip on a steamship by the end!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: August 2022
Publisher: Faber & Faber
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780571363124

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Patch is a little girl who has been passed from one relation to another, until it seems that there is nobody left for her to go to. Her father died when she was very young, and her mother ran away. The family lawyer, after consultation with ‘someone’, arranges for her to go to a school in Liverpool, but on her arrival there, she gets caught up in an adventure with a little boy called Turo who works on a steamship. During a chase with him (when she is both trying to get her rollerskate back and running away from the police!) she winds up on the steamship hiding in a lifeboat, and before she knows it, the ship has left the docks and she is an accidental stowaway!

This is a really lively story, that I found myself immediately caught up in. Patch is an engaging character, who you warm to immediately, and the setting on the steamship is exciting. I think what I liked most of all though was how the book manages to be a lot of things all at once, so it is an orphan story (or at least, an abandoned child story), it’s a mystery story, it’s a story about friendship and belonging, and it’s an exciting action and adventure story! It’s well-paced, keeping you reading just one more page, and one more page again.

Once on board the ship, Patch is soon discovered by another young girl, Lilian who is travelling without her parents, and the two girls soon fall in together, with Lilian trying to help Patch stay undetected on the ship. Watching their friendship grow and develop was lovely, but I also liked seeing all of Patch’s interactions with people on board. She meets and talks with lots of different people, continuing her friendship with the boy who first got her into this mess, but also encountering lots of other characters in her travels around the ship. I also liked the historical aspect to the story, seeing life on board a steamship, and seeing the different ways of etiquette amongst the staff and passengers.

There are multiple strands to the mystery element of the book, as you find yourself wondering about Patch’s family, and wondering what Lilian’s secret is, and also the intrigues around some of the passengers on board. The story builds and grows until it reaches a really exciting peak! Don’t worry though, it’s exciting but not too worrying, and it has a happy ending! There are sweet illustrations throughout the book by Kim Geyer, and I think they helped to add to the charm of the story, capturing some of the characters and antics on board. The chapters vary in length - some very short and others much longer - so I think you’d need a child to have had a go with a chapter book previously so they felt they had the reading stamina. But it would work well as a read-aloud bedtime story for grown ups to share with any younger readers, or one for older children to enjoy alone if they’re more confident, probably in the 8 to 12 age group. It’s a good all-round adventure, and it really made me want to see if they do grown-up sized roller skates!

You might also enjoy these other stories by this author The Secret Starling by Judith Eagle or why not try The Pear Affair by Judith Eagle

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