22nd November '16
We read this book as a class and the children were always so excited for snack time when they got to hear the story being read by myself. The class next door had become so interested that they even joined us at story time! The children loved that the book had pictures even though it was a chapter book. I myself, was quite surprised because I didn't expect to see a thick book like this with as many pictures as it has. The detail in the illustrations is very intricate and it definitely enhances the well written plot. The chapters are fairly short which is great because we like to read chapter to chapter and story time just isn't long enough!
The book is written through the eyes of ‘Poppy Pym’ who is the main character in this fantastic story.
Poppy is a brave and courageous young girl who is always up for an adventure which often lands her in trouble! Much to the disappointment of her teachers at her new school - a boarding school where she lives during term-time, away from her wacky and fun-loving family who make up a popular circus. She is desperate to find out who her real parents are after she was left at a circus as a young baby, with only a short note declaring that the person who left her was called 'E'. Since being away from her 'circus' family, she has longed to find out who 'E' is and why they left her. Her circus family brought her up and she is a keen trapeze artist - this often gets her into trouble as she will use this expert skill during the most inappropriate moments. Once she rescued a cat from the roof of a burning building by using her skills of tightrope walking and shimmying up a tree. She got into trouble for that and was forced to write an essay which she was not happy about, at all! Poppy enjoys fun and is much like her adopted family who are very full of life - as we see in the transcripts of her phone conversations that are written into the story. These make for exciting and interesting use of expression and different accents which the children thoroughly enjoy. The scene these transcripts set are fantastic - as an adult it puts you in mind of Fawlty Towers but the children wouldn't have much reference, if any for that programme and instead they giggle at the idea of utter chaos.
The children enjoyed the excitement of the adventures that happened throughout the book and found it funny when all of the girls (Except Poppy) had a mad crush on 'Lucas Quest' a small time film star and a pupil at their school.
The story line itself reminds me a lot of Harry Potter and this was a much loved story by many (including myself as a child and still now as an adult), in the way it is magical and full of mystery.
It follows the investigations Poppy and her friends carry out in order to pinpoint the person who set the Town Hall on fire and caused major damage. The local drama club ‘The Brimwell Players’ were rehearsing for their upcoming play ‘Macbeth’ and Lucas Quest was one of the performers. Many of the residents and people involved in the play were taken to hospital for shock and it was only when a newspaper report was printed (which to all of our surprise is also in the book) that Poppy found out the famous Lucas Quest had been fibbing! He had told the reporter that he was the one to save the cat. But most importantly the report said the fire on the Town Hall may NOT have been an accident – This is what leads Poppy to begin her investigation with her willing friends Kip and Ingrid in tow!
Throughout the story there are more investigations to get to the bottom of, and Poppy being Poppy can't just complete one before researching and investigating another, no she has to multi-task and use her best detective skills to identify the reasons behind all accidents and disasters, all at the same time. Poppy is convinced that there is a plot to sabotage the performance of Macbeth and is sure that the play itself is jinxed.
It is a very gripping and thrilling read for both adults and children and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it and finding out how the investigation unfolded. We haven’t read the first book in this series and now that we’ve read this one we are desperate to read the first and piece together this book with the prequel. It is fine to read without the previously reading the first one as it retells and reintroduces the character - as Laura Wood talks about whilst in character as Poppy, during the book - the children liked this because it was like the characters were directly talking to them.
We have loved guessing and making predictions about who started the fire and who was trying to sabotage the play. Most of us guessed who it was but when it was revealed that this character didn't set fire to the Town Hall - we had to think carefully about who it was. Finding out the overall culprit to the main drastic events was a shock as we all believed this character was pleasant and friendly. What shocked us even more was finding out that Poppy's mom was someone who had been right in front of her eyes all along. A credit to the literary world - what a brilliant book.
The children's thoughts on the book are below:
"It was really good because I liked it when Poppy found a keyhole in the middle of a poppy. It told me how much you should love your family." KC
"I liked the book because I liked when Poppy found out who her mom was and who the necklace belonged to." GS
"I liked when Poppy found out that Miss Susan was her mom and I was really excited when they knew who had started the fire. The book was exciting and scary - even though I know it wasn't real." KB
"I liked that they included some very adventurous and funny characters. Kip was very funny and a bit greedy with food. The adventurous one was Poppy - she always loved adventures with her best friend. I also liked the book because it included lots of funny bits and I loved snack time because of this book." AD
"I liked Maxwell Dangerfield because he tried to pretend that he didn't sabotage the play." MH
We would rate this book 5 stars. We would give it 100 if we could. We chose this rating because it was adventurous and had pictures in a chapter book.