The Secret of the Swords, and The Poison Plot, by Frances Watts ill Gregory Rogers

Meet Thomasina, kitchen hand who would really rather be a knight-in-training.


Tommy ignored the voice calling her. ‘Go, Sir Benedict!’ she whispered.

Tommy knew it would be Mrs Moon, the cook, angry because she wasn’t standing at the long table peeling mountains of potatoes with the other kitchen girls. Instead, Tommy was standing at the kitchen doorway, watching the knights practising in the great courtyard.

The Secret of the Swords introduces Thomasina, or Tommy, who would much rather be in the courtyard learning to be a knight. But it seems her destiny is to be at the mercy of the cook, Mrs Moon, endlessly peeling potatoes and other horrible kitchen jobs. But a chance encounter with an uppity boy leads to a new job. She is now Flamant’s Keeper of the Blades. It may not be knight-training, but at least she’s working with swords. And these are very special swords.

There’s to be a banquet at Flamant in instalment two of ‘Sword Girl’: The Poison Plot. Tommy is loving her new job learning the history of the swords in her care and getting to know her way around the castle and the village. When she overhears a plot to poison Sir Walter, she has to act. She has to think quickly, or the consequences will be awful. Luckily she’s as sharp as the swords she looks after, although the solution is somewhat unexpected.

‘Sword Girl’ is a new series from Frances Watt, featuring Tommy and set in medieval times. Black and white illustrations throughout the text take the reader into the past and into the castle. Tommy makes friends with many of the castle inhabitants, but a few enemies too. Enough that she can’t completely relax into her new job. Luck may have landed her in a much better job than her old kitchen one, but quick thinking is going to keep her there. And she’s a resourceful character in a tough but magical world. There’s plenty of humour here as well as page-turning stories. Recommended for middle-primary readers.

The Secret of the Swords (Sword Girl)

The Secret of the Swords (Sword Girl), Frances Watts ill Gregory Rogers Allen & Unwin 2012 ISBN: 9781742377285

The Poison Plot (Sword Girl)

The Poison Plot, Frances Watts ill Gregory Rogers Allen & Unwin 2012 ISBN: 9781742377926

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author