The boxy, spiky monkey puzzle tree stands tall and imposing outside the dormitory window of Woodmaston House For Girls, a forbidding guardian to the school's young charges. Nancy Cameron is a new arrival, not just to Woodmaston but to England. She's rolled up from the backwoods of Canada, eager for a new life brimming with adventure. But boarding school isn't the Famous Five fantasy that Nancy had imagined. It is an austere, loveless world where budding relationships are soon put to the test. Nancy wins friends and finds solace by telling stories, but spinning stories for others can't hide the fact that Nancy feels horribly alone inside. And when she leads her dorm in a special fund-raising event that goes tragically wrong, things go from bad to worse. Nancy longs to meet the glamorous brother of her friend, Caroline, and as her troubles build it's an encounter that can't come soon enough - until a shocking revelation comes to light...
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(198mm x 129mm x 14mm)
Simon & Schuster Children's
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
It is the 1960s, and in this sequel to the acclaimed Raspberries on the Yangtze young Nancy Cameron's cosy dreams of boarding-school life are rudely shattered by reality, when she is sent from the wilds of Canada to take up a scholarship at Woodmaston School for Girls. She thought it would be all jolly adventures and country picnics, but instead finds a claustrophobic, all-female world of petty bullying, spiteful pseudo-friendships and incomprehensible crushes. It seems that English school life is as full of sharp spines as the malignant monkey puzzle tree that looms over the school. Despite this, she manages to make friends with the precocious and wild Jenny, whose love of the new sexy fashions is outdone only by her passion for Elvis Presley, and the fragile but intriguing Caroline. However, they soon fall foul of the monstrous Sharon Downey, who rules their dormitory with a heavy, unjust hand. Life is pretty miserable for the first few days, especially as the inaptly named Nurse Blessed seems to take an instant dislike to Nancy and uses the slightest excuse to scold or punish her. Luckily, Nancy soon discovers that her extraordinary gift for story-telling can make life considerably easier for her, at least amongst the girls, and soon even Sharon is listening eagerly to her Sheherazade-like tales, which feature each girl in turn as the starring role. Caroline is eager to hear tales of her older brother Robert, and as Nancy weaves epic adventures for him every night she herself becomes increasingly bewitched with the heroic character she is creating. But as she settles in and even becomes uneasy friends with Sharon, dark undercurrents begin to make Nancy feel that she is, for some reason, being singled out for persecution. Matters come to a head when she is falsely accused of theft and several startling truths come to light. Karen Wallace writes with humour and insight, building her narrative up to a dramatic and thrilling conclusion and keeping the reader glued to the text throughout. Ages 10+ (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Karen Wallace
Canadian-born Karen Wallace is the author of over 70 books for children, including Emerald and the bestselling Raspberries on the Yangtze. She was born in Canada, but now lives in Herefordshire with her husband and a large cat called Cougar.