on 17 November 2011
Kevin Crossley-Holland's love of North Norfolk is very much in evidence in this delightful book. He sprinkles the text with references to the plants, animals and birds, the colour of the sky, the texture of the mud, the personality of the villages, the atmosphere of the windswept beaches and the characteristics of the local human population. The references to angels also come thick and fast, in the names of flowers and many, many expressions in common usage.
The story is simple and straightforward. A young girl, Annie, and her newfound friend, Sandy, set out to discover what happened to the angels that once watched over the congregation from the ceiling of their local church. Annie feels very strongly that the angels want her to find them and she intends to do just that.
I am a fan of Mr Crossley-Holland's work. I loved "Storm" and so it was great to meet Annie again in this story. The writing is completely wonderful and I really felt as if I was walking over the salt marshes with Annie, searching for the Waterslain Angels. I am so glad she found them.
"Gatty's Tale" is still my absolutely favourite of K.C-H's books, but this lovely book comes a close second.
on 18 June 2013
My kids and I have been fans of Crossley-Holland since finding a second-hand copy of his book "Wulf" years ago. His writing and the themes he addresses might be said to be old fashioned, but I mean that in the sense that his writing is more akin to classic children's books than those modern works that tend to clutter the stands and shelves in bookshops and address "yoof" issues and the like. "Waterslain Angels" is as good a place as any to begin with this understated and under-rated author. Set in north East Anglia just after WWII, it concerns Annie and Sandy (son of an American airman and a local mother) who set out to find the angels that once graced the hammerbeam roof of the local church. This is a story about friendship, about relations between children and adults, and about life in post-war austerity Britain; it is also a story with a strongly evoked setting, the marshy landscape of the Fens. History is a feature of all Crossley-Holland's work, and here the story dips into the past of the English civil war, when the angels disappeared, and Annie's dreams of the period add a supernatural element to the tale. But at the heart of the book is a classic mystery story: a hunt for lost treasure, decoding clues, and besting someone who might (or might not) be a villain. A book to treasure for children of 10+.
on 7 April 2013
I thought Waterslain Angels was charming. What a modern child reader in the age of dystopian fiction would think I'm not so sure. Luckily children's tastes are likely to be as varied as adults if they're given the chance and in Waterslain Angels they have the opportunity to enjoy words, fresh air and a thoroughly 'retro' novel. Someone compared this to the Famous Five and while I can see what they mean the passages of dream and fantasy lift this book way out of that league, to say nothing of the quality of the writing. As an adult and a child of the 50s I'll happily recommend Waterslain Angels to be enjoyed by people like me.