Book Review: Grace and Katie, by Suzanne Merritt and Liz Anelli

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_grace_and_katieGreat picture books have either a wonderful story and illustrations, or a profound message. The very best picture books manage to do both and Grace and Katie falls easily into this category.

Grace and Katie are sisters with totally different perspectives on art. While Grace enjoys using straight lines and order, Katie prefers colour and creativity. When they both decide to draw a picture of their home and the local park, the results are very different. The final results are not quite as satisfying as they would like. By sharing their skills and working together they create an artwork which combines accuracy with creativity.

Susanne Merritt is a passionate advocate for children’s literacy and as a Mum of 3 she has plenty of experience with the differences between siblings. Combined with the bright illustrations and detail of Liz Anelli, this book is a treasure.

I teach tolerance and difference to a Year 11 class, and asked if they would like me to read to them. They willingly sat on the mat as I shared Grace and Katie. The following discussion was wonderful as they picked up on the visual clues in the pictures. We talked about stereotyping and working with others. One girl explained that it could have been about her own experience as she was the creative one with a very orderly sister. This led to a sharing about gender stereotypes and the importance of being ourselves.

As a teacher, I see this as a great resource for starting discussions from pre-school level up. It is also a really lovely book to read and enjoy for the satisfying story, the wonderful pictures and the happy ending.

Reviewed by Kathy Watson

Grace and Katie
by Suzanne Merritt and Liz Anelli
Published by EK Books
ISBN 9781925335545

Book Review: The Trap, by Melanie Raabe

cv_the_trapAvailable now at bookshops nationwide.

It’s no surprise to hear that Melanie Raabe won the Stuttgarter Krimipreis (Stuttgart Crime Prize) for best crime debut of the year for her novel, The Trap.

Twelve years ago Linda Conrad’s sister Anna was brutally murdered. Linda swears she saw the killer’s face as he escaped but he was never identified or caught. Despite being a successful author, her sister’s death affected her so badly that she became a recluse, refusing to step foot outside her home or give interviews. She’s never forgotten the killer’s face though, and one night she recognises him – he is by now a well-known journalist – when he appears on television.

She can’t let go of her belief he killed Anna, so she decides to set a trap for him the only way she knows how, writing a thriller called Blood Sisters about the unsolved murder of a young woman. The book is a departure from her usual style and her publisher thinks she risks alienating her regular readers, but Linda is determined to go ahead.

When the book is completed, she grants just one interview, which comes with strict conditions. It will take place in her home, and the man whose face she has etched on her memory must be be the interviewer.

The Trap is a unique crime novel that had me almost skim-reading it because I was so impatient to find out what happened next. It is incredibly fast-paced and very well written. While I was sceptical of the plot at first, Raabe managed to make the story believable and right up to the last few pages I was still not sure who had murdered Anna. Was it the journalist? Or had Linda murdered her own sister and blocked out that fact, inventing the fantasy of a mysterious killer to cover her tracks?

Two stories run parallel in The Trap – each features two sisters, a police officer, and a murderer – varying slightly in the details. I thought this would make it difficult to follow, but very early in the book I realised it worked perfectly, giving the reader time to digest the nuances of each separate story before the next chapter (or instalment).

Raabe apparently wrote her novel in secret while working as a journalist in Cologne. If The Trap is an example of how well she writes, I sincerely hope she continues. Film rights to the novel have been acquired by TriStar Pictures (a division of Sony Pictures): further proof of how good this book really is.

Reviewed by Faye Lougher

The Trap
by Melanie Raabe
Published by Text
ISBN 9781925240870