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.
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+.
If your young one wants a detective tale that will not only inspire the reader but have beautifully put together scripts along with lovingly crafted descriptive passages then this is going to be the novel for you. Annie (our heroine) will generate a believable heroine who continues to grow as the tale unfurls as she continues to follow through the setting of this tale (the 1950's.) Great work by Kevin and something that will find its way into more adults TBR lists as they discover this hidden gem. Great fun and something that I'm lending my father who remembers the Norfolk of the fifties with reverence.
My daughter was completely take with this book - it has a slightly old-fashioned feel but beautiful writing and a gripping plot - Annie is the same girl as in his previous book, Storm (Red Banana) (although her parents seem to have changed slightly), but this is a more substantial book, and she and her new friend, Sandy, have a real adventure trying to track down the missing angels from the local church. It's a bit Famous Five in parts (in a good way - the excitement and the lurking villain!)and with a lovely sense of place and believable characters. Highly recommended!