When Kirsty’s grandad is dying, he asks her to look after his allotment and she promises she will. Easier said than done however, as the allotment is rented from the council. Kirsty needs help to persuade the council’s Mr Thomas to allow her to take it over. Her half-brother Ben comes up with some ideas that don’t work and Kirsty is too afraid of her grumpy older half-sister Dawn to enlist her support. But losing the allotment feels like losing grandad and Kirsty is determined not to do that. Meanwhile dad has taken his father’s death very hard and is keeping to his room.
Caldecott weaves two complex themes (relationships between half-siblings who only live together part of the week and the impact of bereavement) into her humorous, action packed plot with sensitivity and a light hand. She is good at conveying how a child’s imaginative games inform their point of view. Kirsty’s lively persistence eventually gets Dawn on board and events move forward in an entertainingly slapstick way. Dad’s depression is magically lifted by the denouement (unlikely but why not?). It is great to see this new author interested in writing for younger readers. While her novel creaks in places, it is vigorously and freshly imagined and promises well for future work.