Review also includes Rose of No Man’s Land, 978-1842994870
These two titles are the first in a new series aimed at dyslexic older girls. A (removeable) sticker on the front cover identifies them as ‘dyslexia friendly’. Written by Anne Perry, a well known adult author, they both feature Rosie, a teenage girl who is having difficulties with reading. Rosie does not want to stand up in class and answer the teacher’s questions about her homework, not so much because of the difficulty of reading and comprehending, but so as not to appear nerdy in school.
The gift of a watch from a stranger transports Rosie back in time, and in the first title Tudor Rose, she finds herself with Elizabeth I’s household just before the Spanish Armada attacked the English fleet. Rosie meets the Queen and they form a bond before Elizabeth makes the famous speech at Tilbury before the battle. Within the short text Rosie is a credible heroine, and the portrait of an ageing Elizabeth rings true. Through this meeting Rosie also realises that, like the Queen, she can be brave and she finds her voice next time she is asked a question in class.
When Rosie returns the watch to the shop owner it is exchanged for a less bejewelled one and when she wakes the next morning she is in a hospital behind the German lines during the First World War, whose matron is Edith Cavell. This is the subject of Rose of No Man’s Land. Edith Cavell is helping British patients to escape and is arrested. Rosie is called before a German Officer to be questioned about her role in these escapes, which she is able to deny, but the escapes obviously go on although Rosie returns to her own world and again is able to stand up in class and talk about Edith Cavell and her fate.
There is a theme then running through these two stories of a girl finding reading difficult, unable to ask for help even when it is offered. The use of the different watches is a clever device, and the historical backgrounds ring true, with their theme of being close to famous women from the past.
Barrington Stoke specialise in producing books aimed at children with reading difficulties. These two titles are much more obviously aimed at dyslexic girls than other titles I have seen, and would need to be recommended to them. The message in the stories (if you cannot read then ask for help and model yourself on a strong woman from the past) is rather over emphasised and the style sometimes convoluted (eg on page one: ‘If Stacey and Jade had any idea that Rosie thought their classes weren’t totally lame, they would make her life hell.’) which may cause difficulties for some readers.