Calypso is a bookworm. This is hardly surprising. Her father, never very sociable, has become increasingly reclusive since the death of his wife. He is completely absorbed in writing a magnum opus: The History of Lemons. In any case he believes in Inner Strength. Though Calypso finds solace in the adventures and friends she makes within the covers of the books she reads, she has never realised how lonely she is – nor how strange her life – until Mae arrives at school.
Jo Cotterill here takes a topic made familiar in the novels of Jacqueline Wilson – that of the young carer. In Calypso and Mae the author has created two very likeable and distinct characters. Her adults are believable creating a solid backdrop to the friendship of the two girls without requiring too much depth – though how Calypso and her father have survived is hazy. The author’s style attractive and contemporary without jarring. We enter Calypso’s world with ease. This is a warm-hearted story with a suitably happy resolution that would appeal to young readers who have discovered those favourites from the past – What Katy Did, Heidi, Anne of Green Gables – all of which are cited. Indeed, if they have not been discovered, I would hope the young reader might be encouraged to seek them out. Recommended for all those KS2 readers who do not want magic but do want a slice of life.