‘I was stolen the first week in June…’ – Maisie on the way to what promises to be the worst family day out ever, is suddenly snatched from the car and finds herself travelling into an amazing summer of heists, mayhem, friendship – and sweets! She has been taken by the Robbersons – yes, a family of highway bandits who travel the summer roads on their way to the great Summer Shindig. Maisie has to work out how to get back home. It is a journey that is full of surprises and self-discovery.
Madcap, anarchic, a riot, this is an adventure to delight. It has the almost surreal qualities of Alice in Wonderland – a family of bandits on the highways taking random items but especially sweets, enjoying the summer with an infectious joie-de-vivre. These are the events of the imagination – a childlike imagination – which even adults can recognise. Who would not want to abandon the rigid constraints of the everyday? But chaos has its own dangers – and not everyone wants to live without a framework. It is Maisie who is able to suggest alternatives and in so doing learns to understand herself and her own family better. This may be a story that turns the everyday upside-down, but running through it there are serious themes around families and family relationships with a clear message at the end. The reader meets a galaxy of characters they can recognise, both adult and child, with Maisie very much at the centre. The writing, captured in the translation by Ruth Urbom, matches the energy of the story – contemporary language, lively dialogue and a setting that is familiar but with just enough difference to open the mind to a wider world . This is brought to us from Finland, an Honour title in BookTrust’s In Other Words campaign and is a welcome addition to shelves where Moomintroll is already resident. This is a book to promote and share – a joyous adventure that expands the boundaries of belief with confidence without losing sight of its gentle message about family and self-identity.