Dolphin Luck (by Hilary McKay)

I’m so pleased that I discovered Hilary McKay, one of the best modern writers of children’s fiction, in my view. Her characters are wonderful - just a little over the top, yet recognisable. Her storylines amusing: not quite believable, yet full of astute observations.

‘Dolphin Luck’ is a sequel to ‘Dog Friday’ which I read a few weeks ago, and recently found at the Awesome Books site - a hardback version, very inexpensively. I read it in just a few hours. It’s the story of two families who live next door to each other and are close friends. Mrs Robinson has been very ill, which rather casts a blight over the family Christmas, and then their elderly dog becomes ill and dies.

Mrs Robinson is taken away for a holiday in the sun, to help her recover, and their neighbour Mrs Broghan offers to look after the two younger Robinson children, Sun Dance and Beany. However the twins Perry and Ant are sent by train to stay with their great-aunt Mabel, who is also their godmother. However they don’t know anything about her, and get off at the wrong stop. Twice….

It’s an amusing romp, cleverly written with a great deal of insight into the different children. Ant is very soft-hearted; Perry is evidently starting puberty and becoming quite moody. Beany, the youngest, is an independent and determined child who believes in magic; and then there’s Sun Dance, whose mind works rather differently from everyone else’s. Nothing is spelled out; perhaps he has Asperger Syndrome, perhaps something else. It doesn’t matter. He needs to know what’s happening, and he’s not very good at imagining consequences of his actions.

The writing is fast-paced and enjoyable; I would have liked reading this aloud to my sons when they were perhaps six or seven, although once they were reading fluently I think they’d have wanted to read this for themselves. It reminded me in many ways of the Bagthorpe Saga, without the extreme giftedness or the hapless father.

Definitely recommended, for fluently reading children of about eight and older.

'Dolphin Luck' is not currently in print, but can be found in Kindle form in the UK (the link, above, is to the electronic version) and can sometimes be found second-hand or in libraries.

Review by copyright 2015 Sue's Book Reviews

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