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Take Five

The Trial of Anna Cotman. by Vivien Alcock. Mammoth pound;4.99

A welcome reappearance for one of the earliest novels about bullying. It's still one of the best, too. Alcock's characters are very believable, and her plain style suits the story.

Awaiting Developments. by Judy Allen. Walker Books pound;3.99

This prize-winning novel about a girl thwarting a property developer is still both relevant and enjoyable. Allen is a versatile writer who is as comfortable with realism as she is in her more recent science-fiction novels.

A Small Pinch Of Weather. by Joan Aiken. Collins Modern Classics pound;5.99

These stories are real magic: beware imitations! Aiken is a wonderful writer: inventive, elegant and witty. A beautifully-produed edition, with an excellent cover illustration by Matilda Harrison, for a book which deserves classic status.

Memoirs of a Dangerous Alien. By Maggie Prince. Dolphin pound;4.99

This won the WH Smith Mind-Boggling Books Award. It's funny and engagingly written and not many books feature an extra-terrestrial with a humanoid name such as Fenella. Great fun.

The Painted Garden. By Noel Streatfeild. Collins Modern Classics pound;3.99

The three Winter children leave post-war Britain for Hollywood where Jane, the middle child and apparently the least talented, stars in a film of The Secret Garden. Age cannot wither nor custom stale the delights of this book: more than 50 years old and still terrific.


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