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This charming “middle grade” tale reminded me rather of Diana Wynne Jones – with its cast of quirky and out-of-this-world (although not literally) characters and the sprinkling of magic applied to the modern world. As a fast-paced, appealing and amusing read, it certainly appealed and completely deserves its Tom Fitzgibbon award.
Playful and fun, we are first introduced to nearly-thirteen year old Tilly Angelica, anticipating the arrival of her “changeover” party – in which her special ability (if she happens to have one) will make itself apparent. Tilly hopes fervently that it will not – that she will be ordinary like her father and not a strange “freak” like her aunts and various other cousins. Why would she want to be able to grow ridiculously oversized vegetables? Or what if her nose grew to epic proportions to give her a magnificant sense of smell? I must confess, her attitude towards her potential “gift” perplexed me – then I remembered that she was an almost teenage girl, and desire to fit in far outweighs the desire to have some unique and potentially embarrassing ability.
But the potential talent soon becomes the least of her worries. For the entire Angelica family – 25 assorted cousins, uncles, aunts, twice removed and so forth, descend on the manor house. The Southern Angelicas quickly come to blows with the Northern Angelicas and her mischievous younger brother suddenly finds himself with two identical and equally naughty co-conspirators. And that’s not all – cousin Prosper is up to something and his scheming and plotting could bring Tilly’s comfortable existence crashing around her ears.
Not only must she discover, and survive, her Angelica talent, but she must also put a halt to his evil plans. Can she do it? With the help of her brazen burmese, her best friend Olivia and the trouble-making trio… perhaps she can!
It has a relatively simple plot – not too complicated, just filled with madcap craziness and chaotic levels of hilarity. Short chapters make it a fun tale to read aloud and it should certainly appeal to those within the 9-12 age range.
by Angela Oliver
Night of the Perigee Moon
by Juliet Jacka
Published by Scholastic NZ