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Paperback choice;Children's Books

CUDDY. By William Mayne. Red Fox pound;3.50. FORBIDDEN GROUND. By Elizabeth Laird. Puffin pound;3.99.

William Mayne never underestimates his readers' ability to enjoy a story full of poetry, magic, humour and gloriously real characters. Prepare to have your eyes and mind opened. It's a timeslip story about Saint Cuthbert, who is not "dead bones, but lives to bring his brothers and sisters closer to the grand family". But that's not all. Miraculous.

Elizabeth Laird's uncluttered prose welcomes the reader into a coming-of-age story in which Hannah, newly arrived in the city, learns about love, friendship and priorities. Her family needs her, her girlfriends make impossible demands, and Sami says he loves her: should she believe him? The north African setting, sparely but vividly described, adds much to reading pleasure.

Adele Geras

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