The Ruby in the Smoke
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This book won the Lancashire 'Children's Library Book of the Year' award last year - and rightly so. It is a rich narrative, liberally dotted with larger-than-life characters and sharply evoking every disagreeable facet of Victorian London.
Sally Lockhart, independent and unconventional, learns of her father's death in a shipping accident and resolves to discover the circumstances surrounding the tragedy. With the aid of new-found friends, Sally uncovers a complex series of events. It is one of the book's great strengths that the reader works alongside her without preferential treatment to make sense of the information given - plenty of mysteries to solve here!
I read most of the book with a wholehearted enthusiasm and a determination to recommend it strongly as a class reader for more able third-years. My determination wavered slightly at the end of the book where Pullman seems to have opted for the convenience of a tidy happy ending.