My name is Verity Sparks, and I’ve got itchy fingers. The professor calls it teleagtivism. Sounds more like a disease, doesn’t it? But it’s not. It’s more like a talent. A gift. I’ve always had it, but I didn’t know I had it until the summer of 1878. It happened the day I finished the yellow hat.
The hat was mostly feathers, with one poor little bird left whole and stuck onto the brim. ‘Like a dead duck on a plate, ain’t it?’ I said as I held it up.
Madame sighed. ‘Yes , it is. But it’s what she asked for. Oh, dear!’ She fussed around on the work bench for a few seconds, and then sighed again. ‘My spectacles, dear – have you seen my spectacles?’
Verity Sparks worked as a trimmer for a fashionable milliner until a devious scheme by others sees her turned into the street. Verity plans to return to her aunt and uncle’s house but when she reaches there, her horrible uncle quickly assures her she will never be welcome there. She is alone, homeless and jobless, with only her talent for finding things, and a few precious trinkets from her dead mother. But it seems her luck is about to change. She joins a Confidential Inquiry Agency, proves very good at her job and finds some new friends. But there is mystery around Verity’s beginnings. The closer she comes to discovering the secrets of her birth, the greater becomes the threat to her life and the lives of those around her.
Verity hasn’t ever expected a great deal from her life. She had loving parents until illness took them. Life at the milliner’s is as good as she could expect. She works long hours for little money and even smaller thanks from the wealthy clients. But she is grateful for work and a roof over her head. She has never questioned her talent for finding things. She adjusts well though to a new life where she is respected and valued, although occasionally questions her luck. She learns to trust her judgement about people and the gift she has. The Truth About Verity Sparks is a fascinating trip through Victorian London at a time when men and women were questioning their own truths and investigating the physical and the metaphysical. It is also a story about a girl finding her place in the world with the help and hindrance of those around her. Recommended for mid- to upper-primary readers.
The Truth About Verity Sparks, Susan Green
Walker Books 2011
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.