A leaf is just the beginning. Look closely and you will see it is leading you to a branch, and from that branch to another branch, and from a branch to a face. Annie had seen the faces in the hedge at the end of the garden since her father had brought the family to live in Winding Cottage. It was winter then, so she hadn’t gone for a closer look, but when it got warmer she found herself walking past the hedge one day and, without meaning to, she was inside it. That’s why she knew about the faces.
Annie and her family live in a isolated cottage near, but not next to, the lighthouse where her father works. It is a hot summer afternoon and they are all a bit unsettled by an early-morning earthquake. It had not been a big one, just enough to rattle the house and wake them all. Annie visits the hedge and discovers a nest of hatchlings, protected deep within the arms of the hedge trees. Another earthquake and a fierce wind dislodge the nest. Annie sets out on a magical adventure to find the nest and the nestlings. The journey will require all her bravery and clear thinking and may just require the assistance of her young, loud, grubby brother. There are colour-plate illustrations throughout and each chapter begins with a black-and-white illustration.
Dappled Annie and the Tigrish offers a magical realist adventure for mid-primary readers. Set in remote countryside, main character Annie has plenty of time to hear and see the magic in the hedge. That is, if she can get time on her own away from her boisterous younger brother, Robbie. When the nest vanishes, she has to work out which rules are made to be followed, which rules are made to be broken. She also discovers that ‘responsible’ can mean doing what you must even if you are scared. Annie discovers what happens when she follows her instincts and she also gains unexpected strength from some unlikely sources. Recommended for mid-primary readers.
Dappled Annie and the Tigrish, Mary McCallum ill Annie Hayward
Gecko Press 2014 ISBN: 9781877579912
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller