Skip to main content

A world of good and evil

Good and evil are explored in a range of challenging fiction for top juniors. A feline ghost becomes a force for redemption in Chris d'Lacey's chilling short story "Taking Mickey", in the Heroes and Villains anthology (Hodder Children's Books pound;4.99, in association with the Federation of Children's Book Groups). Jono is a timid, weak-natured 11-year-old who falls in with two older lads intent on burglary. He is posted through a skylight into old man Watson's house so he can let the bullies in through the door, but he loses his nerve. When he makes off with nothing but a cask containing the ashes of Mr Watson's cat, he is haunted for his crime. This sobering, but ultimately uplifting story is heightened by d'Lacey's stark, gritty style - one of a collection of compelling and thought-provoking tales and extracts in this outstanding anthology of old and new fiction.

Nightdancer by Garry Kilworth (Orion Dolphin pound;4.99) is the powerful story of a New Zealand boy who is haunted by ancient spirits disturbed by his mother's archaeological explorations. John Terangi accompanies his mother to Rarotonga, Pacific island home of his Maori ancestors, to excavate ancient sites. The boy's presence unsettles the spirit of the kabu - "a savage shadow I fashioned from hate and fear", which once fed on human sacrifice. Kilworth, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, has created a dark, forceful adventure from Polynesian myths.

Sing Me a Story: Song and Dance Tales from the Caribbean by Grace Hallworth and John Clementson (Frances Lincoln pound;12.99) is a bold, bright collection of five trickster tales for infants, accompanied by songs and music. Hallworth's simple but lyrical storytelling is complemented by Clementson's collage compositions, alive with rhythm and colour, and enriched by opportunities for music and movement. Although these tales are meant to be fun, Hallworth doesn't soften their raw power. In "The Mermaid's Rock", for example, Hazel's overwhelming desire to have tresses like the mermaid Dora leads her to a watery grave.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you