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This month BfK features Jane Ray’s cover for The Twelve Dancing Princesses. We’re particularly delighted to have the opportunity to use this illustration as it enables us to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Orchard Books - they’re 10 this year! And also to thank them for their help in producing our July cover.
Quite simply one of the best novels, adult, teenage or children's, I've read for a very long time. Julie, alias Spider, meets Ricky at her Nan's funeral. Discovering that he was once involved with the Animal Rescue Campaign, she encourages him to remake contact through letter writing, petitions and demos. Inexorably she's drawn towards increasingly violent direct action against a local scientist who is involved with vivisection, ending with a fire bombing. Eventually Julie realises that the doe-eyed, animal-loving Ricky has not only lied to her but actually enjoys the violence. The book ends leaving the reader asking many questions as Julie makes her way to the police station to confess. The animal rights issues, while presented cogently, are only a part of this marvellous book as it also takes in Julie's grief at the loss of her Nan, her inability to communicate or build any decent relationship with her mother, similar problems with her sisters and the pleasure and pain of first love. Through her personal crisis, Julie - spiky, arrogant, difficult to like at times, but also uncertain and vulnerable - moves to an understanding of herself and her family. How come this didn't win any awards?