8th January '15
Boys stand to miss out on a fabulous book … if they think that the title ‘Goth Girl’ means that it is a book written for just for girls. As a parent of two boys, I am ashamed to say I might have judged this book by its title and very nearly overlooked it for my sons – but that would have been a huge error! The main character, Ada Ghastly Gorm, easily deserves a place amongst the coolest heroes and heroines of children’s books. The quirky umbrella fencing, vampire defeating, secret society sleuth with the very best gothic style, is easily popular with boys and girls alike. In this sequel, the book re-joins Ada at Ghastly Gorm Hall, where preparations for the Ghastly-Gorm Garden Party and bake-off are underway. Ada’s Father, Lord Goth is away on business from the manor, and Ada is left to investigate suspicious goings-on around Ghastly Gorm Hall. Unusually, Ada does this without the support of the secret Attic club society - who seem to have become very distracted by the celebrity cooks and talent arriving for the big event. A strange friend of her father’s, Lord Sydney Whimsy, seems to be keeping an overly observant eye on the party preparations and the suspicious activity of the estate Gamekeeper – Maltravers. The finale, and the resolution of these mysteries culminates in an exciting and unexpected event at the Ghastly-Gorm Garden Party. Goth Girl is a beautifully presented book. It has stunning silver leaf skull detailing on the front and inner cover and a bronzed scarlet edging to the pages, which made my magpie-like son pick up the book immediately and covet it like treasure. Chris Riddell’s illustration is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful and the book is jam packed full of the most exquisitely detailed black and white drawings. My six year old son and I poured over each drawing, examining each one carefully for detail and the creative genius of the illustrator. The creative ingenuity of Chris Riddell takes children’s imaginations to a new level. At times I was reminded of the quirky creativeness of Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland – in that Riddell creates a world there are such things as an ‘Unstable stables’ that shelter hobby horses instead of real horses, and of course…there is a hobby-horse racecourse! The culinary creations of the celebrity chefs for the bake-off also had my son practically salivating – such detailed description and vivid imagination into the taste of the Chocolate Finger-Licking Upside Down Cake in a lake of melted chocolate! This book fired my son’s imagination and led us onto conversations about what kind of manor house my son would create, what rooms and grounds features it would have if he could choose. It also encouraged us to think up fabulous culinary creations as if we were one of the celebrity chefs for the bake off. I read this to my six year old son and it struck me as an interesting book to expand children’s vocabulary. At several points throughout the book, we encountered words that my son had not come across before such as ‘impeccable’, ‘unfurled’, ‘curiosity’, ‘indignantly’ which we were able to explain and therefore increase his understanding of some more complex words. At no point did this distract from the narrative, and I was encouraged to see more complex words in a children’s book. It was a great prompt for me to introduce the meaning of new words to my son while we were reading. There were a lot of characters, but we loved them all. The quality and detail with which they were illustrated really complimented their written descriptions, and added to the feeling of understanding and knowing each person. The plots was well paced, neatly constructed and totally engaging for children and adults alike. There is humour there for the adults too in the parody of the celebrity chefs at the bake-off such as The Hairy Hikers and Nigellina Sugarspoon. We give this book five stars. My book obsession generally keeps me quite poor, but as soon as I have built up some new funds, I will be purchasing everything Chris Riddell has written for my son’s. We are new fans.