Eva and her dad’s quiet home life is interrupted when the McIntyres move in next door. In Eva’s dad’s words, the McIntyres are a ‘problem’ family, and they are certainly noisy, chaotic, not to mention well known to the local police. Despite her dad’s warnings however, Eva is intrigued by the youngest boy, Jamie, and when she meets him at a project to spruce up a local park lodge they become friends.
Eva has real fun with Jamie; he’s not bound by rules and regulations and that sense of freedom and adventure is incredibly refreshing for her. They fall out though when he says her dad treats her like a prisoner. Could there be some truth in this? Well, yes. Eva’s mum died in an accident two years earlier, and her dad’s over-protectiveness is stifling. Their lives are so quiet, because there’s so much they can’t say to each other, so many things they can’t do.
When Jamie is taken into care, Eva is determined to track him down so that she can apologise. Her search for him turns into a comic romp, involving the hijacked ice-cream van of the title, lycra clad members of a boot camp exercise class, Jamie’s social worker, and the obligatory dog. It’s great fun, and leads to her having an honest conversation with her dad for the first time in ages.
‘I enjoy the mixture of humour and reflection that comes about when you have lots of ingredients in the same book’ Elen Caldecott told Books for Keeps in an interview about her book The Mystery of Wickworth Manor and that’s definitely the case here. As with her previous books, she has successfully woven some serious themes into a good old-fashioned (and that is meant as a compliment) adventure caper which will thoroughly entertain young readers, of both sexes, while also giving them things to think about. As ever, her writing is full of acute observations and witty turns of phrase.