Someone had said the view from the top of the rollercoaster was amazing but Will Hopkins had only one thought as the carriage rattled its way up the steep steel incline: ‘I’m only thirteen! I’m too young to die!’
Beside him in the lead car, Poll di Nozi strained against the safety bar, pointing excitedly. ‘Would you look at that bolt there, Will! It’s wobbling like crazy! This rig needs a good going over with a welding torch if you ask me! There’s another loose one! Look!’
Will Hopkins is not a huge fan of rollercoasters. It’s clear that too much can go wrong. His friend, Poll, couldn’t be more different, she seems to have no fear. In fact, Poll seems determined to run at everything, sometime too fast to be sure it’s a good idea. When the Mayor’s nephew, Benson, leaves town in a hurry, Poll and Will and Poll’s pet ram Shorn Connery give chase. More than one reputation is at stake. Will is a timid but resourceful Watson to Poll’s madcap Holmes. And Shorn? Who knew that this adventure would make his heart beat so fast.
It’s often said that life is a rollercoaster, and it’s certainly true for the characters in this novel, both literally and metaphorically. Particularly for Will Hopkins who really doesn’t seem to have much control of this adventure. Despite this, he hangs on for the ride and provides assistance that the adventure cannot succeed without. Even when he’d really rather be at home having takeway Chinese dinner with his mother and stepfather. Puns abound in this adventure mystery, while the problems encountered by the characters are all too realistic. Riddle Gully Runaway is a wild adventure with a clear message about facing your fears, even if running away initially seems an easier option. Recommended for mid- to upper-primary readers.
Riddle Gully Runaway, Jen Banyard Fremantle Press 2014 ISBN: 9781922089878
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller