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May 2015


Cicada Summer (Kate Constable)


I stumbled across Cicada Summer in a very "professional" attempt to increase my general knowledge of junior fiction. I had heard of Kate Constable, most recently through her acclaimed novel Crow Country, which won the 2012 CBCA Young Readers Book of the Year (haven't read it yet - should do soon!)  Cicada Summer wasn't quite what I expected, mainly because I totally judged the book by it's cover and didn't read the blurb at all.  Regardless though, I found it to be quite an engaging story, and surprisingly atmospheric for a junior fiction novel.

Eloise doesn't speak much.  Actually, she doesn't say anything at all, and hasn't really spoken since her mother passed on a wee while back.  Instead, Eloise speaks through her art, as she is quite a talented artist.

Eloise's father, who is an "entrepreneur" and forever chasing his next big bucks breakthrough, has just been given a beautiful, but decaying art deco mansion in the country, courtesy of his sharp-witted and somewhat recalcitrant mother, Mo.  Mo may have a lot of sass, but she also has agoraphobia - and doesn't leave the house.  Whilst Eloise's father heads to the city to chase down investors in the mansion, he leaves Eloise with her grandmother, who then leaves Eloise to her own devices.  And so Eloise begins to explore her new surroundings, and it's from here that things take a change for the spooky and strange...

This is a sweet story that manages to touch on a wee bit of everything.  Grief, family relationships, immigrant families, mental illness, ghosts, time travel (yes, time travel), and art.  If that sounds like a weird mix, well, it is.  But Kate Constable manages to bring it all together in a quite engaging and (as I mentioned previously) atmospheric story.  Definitely one for the girls, I would recommend Cicada Summer for ages 8-12.

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