Five short stories, about five very different girls, each a hero in her own way.
There’s Nerissa, who saves the day when the taxi takes her and her mammy to the wrong church on her sister’s wedding day; Ugaso, finding the strength in images of her native Somalia to make a new life in London; Milly, a born dancer whose quick thinking and nerve put her in the spotlight; Kompel, whose actions help a little girl abused by her family; and Kim, surprised to find that her experiences on the School Journey help her understand her father’s ordeal as a refugee.
Four of the stories have been published before but are brought together for the first time in this welcome new collection, published under Bernard Ashley’s own imprint, Ashley Chappel Books. Milly’s story, ‘Stronger than Sprite’, has been written specially.
Each story is a small, complete piece of drama set in a perfectly realised world of school, classmates and family that will be familiar to readers, making the protagonists immediately recognisable and sympathetic, despite their very different backgrounds.
With their roots so firmly in real life, Ashley resists glib happy-every-after: so Milly’s moment of stardom is going to be followed by lots of hard work and practice; Kompel knows that the best she can give her Sally Cinderella will simply be the chance of a better life. But the stories hum with Ashley’s compassion, and with his admiration for his hero girls.
This is a book that will be enjoyed as well as one that will provoke thought and debate, and it deserves a place on every school and library bookshelf.