Travellers by Night
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The illustration on the cover of this issue is from the new Bodley Bookshelf edition of Penelope Farmer's The Summer Birds. We think Paul Geiger's artwork catches exactly the magic of that delightful book. We are grateful for the help of The Bodley Head in using this illustration. For details of the book and more about Penelope Farmer, turn to May We Recommend... on page 14.
Charlie and Belle are saving to have the scar on Belle's face removed with plastic surgery. When the circus closes there is a different and more urgent need for their money. The children begin a journey, travelling by night, to a safari park where they are convinced the Tessie, the ageing circus elephant, will be safe from the slaughterhouse. Vivien Alcock gets behind the usual glitter of circus stories to reveal the struggles, fears and jealousies of the young children who grow up together competing for eventual stardom in the ring. There is stark contrast between Belle's attacking approach to life and Charlie's steady, determined ways. Belle is the ideas girl, the daring acrobat. Surely the eventual star? Charlie is the worrier, the one who encourages and supports. The journey through the nights is, for the children, a time of recognition of their real potentials. This battle of personalities gives body to what is also an exciting, fast moving story. It offers much to be enjoyed by girls and boys in the middle school.