The Ballad of Cauldron Bay, by Elizabeth Honey

Henni is back. First seen in 45 & 47 Stella Street, and later in Fiddle-back, this third book has all the laughs and growing pains that can be expected from author Elizabeth Honey.

When Tibor is offered the use of a house at remote Cauldron Bay for the Easter holidays, he invites his friends from Stella Street to come along. Henni can’t wait to get there, but it takes time to negotiate who is going and for how long. Still, like all good things the holiday finally begins and is going just great, until Tara comes along to ruin it.

Tara is sophisticated and very into boys. She’s come on holiday because things are not going well at home. Tara doesn’t do things the way Henni and her friends do, and Henni is not happy about her holiday being wrecked by this intruder. She is learning that not everything goes to plan and that being a teenager is complicated.

The Ballad of Cauldron Bay sees Henni growing from a child into a teenager. As with the earlier books, Henni acts as narrator, recounting the tale in a chatty-first person style which is complemented with the pictures she draws both to explain and for simple illustration. This time round Henni has a new computer on which to compose her story. She has given her computer a name (Byron) and addresses him directly within the story, reminding the reader of her youth and her presence as a narrator telling a story in retrospect.

In true Honey style, The Ballad of Cauldron Bay is a delightful mix of humour and drama, of issues and dilemmas and of poetic language. An outstanding read.

The Ballad of Cauldron Bay, by Elizabeth Honey
Allen & Unwin, 2004