When Maverick Books offered me Jenny Moore’s Bauble, Me and the Family Tree to read and review I immediately agreed. Earlier this year I had previously read her Agent Starling: Operation Baked Beans, quickly followed by Audrey Orr and the Robot Rage and loved them both – both books are everything kids love (and us adult readers), silly, funny and very entertaining reads. Bauble, Me and the Family Tree is a completely different style of book.
With her previous two books they were humorous with time travel, history, adventure, raging robots and, of course, all children’s favourite – poo and farting! Bauble, Me and the Family Tree takes on a more serious and emotional tone about losing a parent and dealing with grief.
Noel is used to his unusual family set-up: him, Mum, super-brainy little sister Bauble, and his gay uncles (both called Mike) next door. But when Bauble spots Mum kissing Santa Claus—in August—everything Noel thought he knew about his family is turned upside-down.
Who’s the mysterious ‘F’ sending Mum romantic postcards?
Why has she started taking weird photos of people in food bikinis?
And, even though he’s clearly not Santa, might Dad still be alive after all?
Noel is 10 years old and his sister Bauble (aka Holly) is 7 years old. Their father died before Bauble was born and in their desperate need for a father they convince themselves that when Bauble sees their mother kissing Santa Claus under a wishing bow that their father might not really be dead and is coming back. This sets them off onto an investigation into the mysterious situation and delves into the realms of grief, relationships, family dynamics and honesty.
Jenny Moore is an exceptional writer. Whilst her previous books are in a similar vain of adventure and humour, with Bauble, Me and the Family Tree she has changed styles to show another facet of her writing abilities and delivers it very well.
Bauble, Me and the Family Tree is an emotional story about the crushing effects of death and how children deal with it. It is very touching, handled extremely well and beautifully written. Not only does it show the devastating effects that grief can have on children and how they handle it, but how keeping secrets really doesn’t help, even when the purpose is to protect and done with the very best of intentions.
Whilst the story deals with a very emotive subject and may be a hard and heartfelt read for some (especially if they have lost a loved one) it balances out the dark with light-hearted humour with the mysterious photos of people in their bikinis with food on their heads or around their necks and a five-legged race!
Written from the point of view of a child for other children, creating a perspective that children will be able to relate to and hopefully help them deal with grief and the change in their family dynamics.
Bauble, Me and the Family Tree is a heartfelt and emotive story of grief, love, honesty and how families come in all different shapes, sizes and configurations.
RRP: £6.99 (paperback)