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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
The Secret Lake: A children's mystery adventure
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on 26 January 2012
The Secret Lake
By Karen Inglis

From the moment I saw the cover I couldn't take my eyes off it because I wanted to know more about the characters. Emma was one of my favourites because she is very sweet and a loyal friend to Stella. However, I liked Jack too because he talked in a funny cockney language.

This book is a time-travel mystery, adventure and thriller. It is a mystery because they don't know where Harry has disappeared to. It is an adventure because they are trying to discover where Harry has gone. It is time-travel because they go back to a hundred years ago and it is a thriller because everybody is everybody!

The chapters were short and very appealing to read. Each chapter drew you on to the next one. It was an imaginative story which made me want to read more. It was easy to understand her writing.

There were many twists and turns along the way. I predicted some events but most were wrong. This is what kept me interested in the book.

I would recommend "The Secret Lake" to boys and girls aged 7 and up. I would award this book 4 stars out of 5 because although I enjoyed it I have read better stories.
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on 22 December 2013
I read this book as an adult with a 10 year old daughter and as a reviewer for a parenting magazine in search of books set in the summer holidays. I'd previously read, enjoyed and reviewed Inglis's children's book "Eeek!"

I enjoyed it from the first page and read it quickly and eagerly, carried along by the fast-paced intrigue of the plot. The setting, season and essential quest were well established early on, and the characters clearly defined and differentiated. Londoners in particular will appreciate the setting, which reminded me of Richmond Park's Isabella Plantation, and the contrast between the children's current London apartment and their former Hong Kong flat was well made. Without spoiling the plot, the device by which the children slip back to a previous age is robust and tantalising, and it will have children everywhere scrabbling beneath bushes in the park in hope of finding something similar, just as they touch the backs of old wardrobes hoping to find Narnia.

The story's structure and language were clear and easily digestible. There were lots of little touches that young readers will relate to, e.g. a girl listening to music on her iPhone while eating fruit polos, playing with her friendship bracelet. I think even reluctant readers will find this story appealing, from the intriguing title and allure of the picture on the cover to the satisfaction of being able to progress quickly through the short chapters. They'll especially love the dog, who plays a key part in the plot (but I'm not giving away any secrets here!)

The only reason I'm giving it 4* rather than 5* is that I disliked the way that the young Victorian Cockney boy's speeches are written out phonetically. Given that the book is set in London, and he's clearly working class, it seemed unnecessary and a little bit patronising to spell out speeches Eliza Dolittle style, e.g. "Ow d'yer get in 'ere then?" and "If e's goin' fer summet ter eat we're all done for!" Younger readers may might find the unfamiliar spelling distracting or confusing, especially if they're still gaining confidence as readers. But maybe I'm just being over-critical as I have a bit of an Estuary English accent myself!

I highly recommend this book for boys and girls alike, especially Londoners or anyone whose family is relocating - one of the key themes is about friendship issues for children moving house.

More like this please, Karen Inglis!
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on 27 April 2016
This story has many strengths - its short chapters and length will attract even reluctant readers, the time travel/mystery plot is exciting and I like the contrast of details between modern day life and that of a hundred years ago. The book has a somewhat traditional feel – that is a strength as it is totally in keeping with the subject matter.

The author has planned the book with meticulous care and creative flair and I am sure it will appeal to Inglis' target readership. If I had one small criticism (and this is so subjective!) I think the book could benefit from a more eye-catching cover design. It's a little too green to really stand out and does look a bit dated. However, I'm sure there are many who would disagree and this fact alone does not detract from the quality of the writing.
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on 19 November 2013
One of those rare books that I'm confident will appeal equally to both boys and girls. Though aimed at the eight to eleven year old market whilst The Secret Lake is ideal for the more confident reader to read alone it is also perfect as a story to be shared at bedtime or indeed any other time.

Part mystery, part thriller. A tale of friendship, of discovery, of oddly behaved moles, The Secret Lake is the magical, enchanting and surprisingly moving story of what happens when two children (brother and sister, Tom and Stella) happen upon a time travel tunnel.

Cleverly written in that at the same time as being a very up to date read - I loved the contrast between Stella and Tom and their twentieth century counterparts - the author also managed a nostalgic feel to the book that took me back to my childhood.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.
Disclaimer: Read and reviewed on behalf of the author, I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.
The Secret Lake
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VINE VOICEon 29 October 2013
Eleven year old Stella and her eight year old brother Tom have moved from Hong Kong to a new home in London, where they enjoy exploring in the gardens around their house. Harry, the little dog belonging to Mrs Moon, one of their neighbours, arouses their interest as he keeps disappearing, and when he reappears he is wet. During their summer holidays, the two children investigate the gardens further and find a buried boat, and a tunnel which leads to a secret lake. Here they meet a young boy rowing, and looking scared. Their subsequent adventures take them on a journey back to the past, making new friends and discovering their home as it was nearly a hundred years previously.

This was a lovely read of just over a hundred pages with short chapters, and the author builds the suspense well over the course of the story. It's a magical and imaginative children's tale, filled with plenty of excitement, discovery and adventure, time-travel, and some rather special moles! The interactions between the children and with those they met were well written and the author conveys their real excitement and intrigue about the mysteries they uncover and the discoveries they make. The realistic details of their lives in the present - such as their clothing and Stella listening to her iPhone and connecting with old friends from Hong Kong on Facebook - both adds substance and also contrasts well with the different appearances, speech and behaviour they find in the people they meet in the past. The attractive, intriguing setting is well evoked, and this is also nicely illustrated in the colourful, appealing cover design of the book jacket which matched the story nicely.

The Secret Lake is aimed primarily at readers aged around 8 to 11 years old, and I think readers of that age bracket (girls and boys) would enjoy this one very much, though I myself certainly enjoyed escaping into it and joining them on their adventures through the time tunnel too! It's a recently rediscovered delight to pick up a children's story from time to time.
4.5 stars
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on 27 January 2013
Just where does Harry, the dog next door, go? And why does he come back wet? Siblings Stella and Tom set out to solve the mystery. They find a secret lake, and a terrified boy - and then hear children's voices. And whose are those children's voices carried on the wind from beyond the woods? The children have travelled 100 years back in time, to their house and garden as it was. Friendship and emnities are formed in this exciting story, perfect for girls and boys. Mystery, adventure and time travel combine in a story which captures the reader's imagination. The story incorporates unexpected twists and turns which engage the reader and sustain interest in the book. I review many books for schools and I think this would make a great class reader.
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on 19 January 2013
Great story,
I love time travel stories like this, there should be more like it. All the rest seem to be about time travel romance. It took what is essentially a children's book to come up with a real good one.
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on 2 April 2013
This book is full of mysteries and excitement, it has a strange dog that travels back and forth through time and much much more!!

After reading this I rate it to all readers who love a mystery. I think you will enjoy this book more than anything! It is suitable for AGES 7+. You absolutely MUST get this book!!!!!
Read it and enjoy!

By Ella
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on 10 May 2012
I thought this was a brilliant book and I really liked the characters, especially old Mrs Moon. The children in the book saw a dog disappear and then reappear soaking wet and decided to follow the dog to see where he went. What they found was a tunnel and at the other end of the tunnel was a lake, a rowing boat and a big mystery.
At the end of the book the children have solved the mystery of the lake but the ending was a little bit sad.

The book was interesting and I liked that it was a mystery that the children solved at the end. I read it in my bed at night and it took me a few nights as it was so good. I would definitely recommend it to my friends.

By James, aged 8
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on 20 February 2012
Because I get so nostalgic reading books for younger children as mine are all 13 upwards, I reluctantly looked at this one. It was truly loveley and had a believable story. Like others have said, the cover alone is exciting and makes for compelling reading. The characters are colourful, persuasive and vivid and the setting quite magical yet realistic. The chapters are short and the content engaging.Reiterating what others have said, importantly the book is not too long.
Thoroughly recomend it for 7+ readers.

Maggie O'Brien
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