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Paperback choice;Childrens books

DOLPHIN LUCK. By Hilary McKay. Hodder. pound;3.99.

Mum's ill, the dog's dying, the turkey's burnt, siblings are fighting and dad's at his wit's end. Hilary McKay's great storytelling gift is evident in the way she turns this not-so-atypical nightmare of a family Christmas into an outlandish adventure story that has pace and emotional range.

At the heart of the story is Beany's belief that she has discovered the lost and ancient dolphin sword, which makes wishes come true.

McKay's perceptive forays into the psychology of children turn their hopes, anxiety, sadness and optimism into a series of misunderstandings, madcap plans, expeditions and farcical events.

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