Grimsdon, by Deborah Abela

It wasn’t exactly stealing – it hadn’t been that for a long time, not since the floods came and wiped away everything they’d known.
Isabella was with the other kids, searching rooms, looking through cupboards and drawers. This time they were in a grand building with tall ceilings and views overlooking the harbour, but the furniture was tattered, the walls smudged with mould, and a chill wind cut through smashed windowpanes.

The city has been flooded by huge waves. Most of the people are gone, the buildings are abandoned, their feet deep in the new high tide line. For three years, Isabella, Griffin, Fly and twins Raffy and Bea have survived here on their own. They use flying foxes to get around, and found treasure to barter with the few adults they know. They live in an opulent apartment, an almost mystical dwelling, filled as it is with toy rooms, costumes and unusual furniture. Then Xavier arrives, flying his Aerotrope. Like the wonderfully inventive Griffin, Xavier can make amazing machines from unusual components. Xavier is accepted into their group, despite Griffin’s suspicions. Xavier shows them a bigger world. They offer him friendship. But there are mysteries here. Where did Xavier come from? Where are all the adults? Were the floods inevitable? Are there really sea monsters?

Deborah Abela gives the reader a super-paced adventure mystery, set in an abandoned city where water keeps the protagonists captive. Grimsdon uses multiple viewpoints but most of the action is voiced by Isabella, Griffin and Xavier. None tell their complete story though. Each has secrets. Adults are portrayed as thugs or bullies, with the exception of a scientist, discovered in the State Library. The children establish their own family and pool their skills to survive. The cover art suggests a very dark tale, and although intense and dystopian, there is plenty of hope and light in the relationships forged by the flooding disaster. The ending brings change, and character revelations, but offers hope for the future of the children, and for their world. Recommended for mid- to upper-primary readers.


Grimsdon, Deborah Abela
Random House Australia 2010
ISBN: 9781741663723

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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