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Frozen Billy Paperback – 1 Jun 2006
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Mining the myriad of rich and atmospheric story themes that spring from the colourful heyday of the old Victorian music halls, Anne Fines latest novel is a visual and eerily spooky treat that more than lives up her reputation as one of the countrys finest writers for children. The award-winning author of Flour Babies and Goggle-Eyes, Fine has recently been the Childrens Laureate and is consistently original and witty and entertaining in all of her work. Many a recent author of childrens books could learn a thing or two about writing and narrative by reading Fines extensive backlist.
Here, her story concerns the fate of brother and sister, Clarrie and Will, whose misfortunes lead them into residing with their Uncle Len. While their father is in Australia trying to secure a job and a brighter future for his family, their mother, in Ireland for a funeral, is trapped there--wrongly accused of stealing a basket of food. Lens brilliance as a ventriloquist is matched only by his special ability to destroy his career by the consumption of beer.
Then one of Wills seemingly perfect ideas saves the day. He suggests that he dresses up as the twin of Lens dummy, Frozen Billy, to form a new act. Carrie is severely unnerved by Lens life-like dummy and becomes even more so when Wills personality begins to change and distort when their double act is a success. Carrie thinks this new stage act has the power to destroy her whole family and she must act fast to save everybody.
Fines unsettling narrative is different from her trademark domestic dramas--but it is equally as powerful. Its a chilling tale, with hints of the supernatural that nevertheless has charm and excitement. And, as with all of Fines novels, is has the requisite happy ending. (Age 10 and over) --John McLay --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Fine's genius for storytelling reaches new heights: simple, direct and with a subtle period feel to the narrative and dialogue" (Independent)
"Unsettling and atmospheric, this story of a young brother and sister boldly making their own fates is told in the voice of the girl with lightness and simplicity but covers dark and complex territory before reaching its happy ending" (The Sunday Times)
"Full of terrific characters and deceptions and intrigues" (TES)
Top customer reviews
This is a lovely story set in the past (although it doesn't say, I think around Victorian times) Recommended for younger readers as it doesn't dig deep in to Clarrie's emotions. I suggest around 7-12.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Set one hundred years ago in Edwardian England, "Frozen Billy" is narrated through a series of notebooks kept by feisty Clarissa, called Clarrie. Her father is in Australia, working to earn passage for the family to join him. When Mother goes to a funeral in Ireland and is unjustly jailed, Clarrie and her little brother Will suddenly find themselves in the care of their strange Uncle Len. A music hall ventriloquist, Uncle Len and his dummy, the Frozen Billy of the title, amuse audiences every night--but Clarrie and Will are not amused that Uncle Len moves into their home, drinks up his paychecks, and takes control of their lives. When Will shows an uncanny talent for mimicking Frozen Billy, Uncle Len incorporates his nephew into the act in hopes of doubling his earnings at the music hall.
Clarrie struggles to hold the family together as the dire situation grows more and more ominous. At first enthusiastic about the act, Will gradually changes from a happy-go-lucky boy to a gloomy, grim shadow of himself, and Clarrie wonders: Is he in fact somehow, mysteriously, turning into a marionette? In desperation, she embarks on a risky rescue scheme that involves a second dummy--and her own theatrical talent.
This complex, captivating novel achieves a rare balance: poetic prose that maintains a believable child's voice. Pencil illustrations by Georgina McGain increase the eerie quality of this chilling adventure. Don't miss the surreal and satisfying "Frozen Billy"!