Ella dropped her bag and stared at the poster pinned to the noticeboard. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Titania. Oberon. Puck. Ella saw a cloud of fairies. A moonlit forest. Filmy dresses with butterfly wings. She sighed. Would she have the courage to audition? Probably not. Her heart pounded at the very thought of it.
Ella dreams of being an actor, but when auditions for the school play are advertised, she knows she won’t try out.. It’s impossible to be on stage when you suffer stage fright. Instead, she’ll be part of the stage crew, like she was last year. Still, she wishes it could be different.
When the grandfather she’s never met comes back from England and moves in, things start to change. Grandpa is a retired actor, and is keen to encourage Lucy to follow her dreams. Lucy assures him that she doesn’t want to act, but Grandpa seems to see through her. Grandpa is the only change in Lucy’s life. Her best friend Gina seems no longer interested in the same things and there’s a new boy at school who seems conceited, but still seems to be everywhere Ella goes.
In the Wings is a moving story of self-discovery, friendship and family. There are several issues explored, but the issues don’t overshadow the story, which will appeal to tween readers.
In the Wings, by Elsbeth Edgar
Walker Books, 2013
Available from good bookstores or online .
The first time Laura saw the house she thought it was enchanted. Looking up at the long elegant windows, with their small balconies and intricate wrought-iron decoration, she thought she had never seen anything so beautiful. She couldn’t believe that they were going to live in such a beautiful fairytale world.
The kids at school say that the Visconti house, where Laura lives, is haunted. They say that it’s creepy. But Laura loves the house, and the memories with which it is filled. The house is the only good thing about the family’s move to the country. Laura hates her new town – and especially going to school, where she feels like an outsider. And, when a strange new boy comes to town, Laura is determined not to have anything to do with him, worried that any association would make her seem even more strange.
But when Laura unearths a mystery about Mr Visconti, the man who built the house, it is Leon who helps her and as their friendship grows, Laura discovers they have more in common than she thought. Exploring Mr Visconti’s sad history also helps both children to put their own lives into perspective.
The Visconti House is a tale of friendship, family and mystery, set in the present day. Laura and Leon experience problems which many readers will relate to, particularly the struggle to fit in and to be comfortable with self-identity, as well as bigger issues including the loss of a parent. At the same time, they work together to piece together the history of the previous owner of Laura’s house, a process which will absorb young readers.
Suitable for upper primary aged readers, The Visconti House will especially appeal to girls.
The Visconti House, by Elsbeth Edgar
Walker Books, 2009
This book is available online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.