This fast-paced romp will be an irresistible page-turner for 10-12 year-old girls. It has all the requisite ingredients: inseparable friends; a sick child; a lovable puppy; a reformed criminal; and a bad-tempered old lady with a secret heart of gold. There is nothing formulaic about this book, however – just an insistence that old-fashioned values can still prevail and determination and a strong sense of social justice can put most things right.
Fudge and Cupcake have been lifelong friends and when Cupcake’s younger brother Joey is diagnosed with muscular dystrophy they both devote a good deal of their time and energy to him. Ure approaches the subject with realism and sensitivity, avoiding the self-indulgence of sentimentality and making clear the emotional toll exacted by the disease: Joey’s father leaves and his mother is left in difficult financial circumstances. However, it is also made clear that families can and do support each other in times of crisis – another welcome theme.
When Fudge and Cupcake rescue Cookie the dog from neglect by his owner and give him to Joey, the two quickly become devoted friends. Sadly, it soon becomes obvious that Cookie urgently needs a life-saving but expensive operation and the two girls make a pact to raise the necessary funds. Their journey to success is peppered with disappointments, humour and an unexpected but innocent foray into the criminal underworld.
Right prevails in the end and Ure reminds us of the virtues of honest lives in a refreshing and compelling way: in this book, people get what they deserve – but they are also given the opportunity to change and grow.