by Hilary McKay
Opening lines–“It was the last weekend before the summer holidays. Naomi Conroy crouched uncomfortably at the end of the garden reading a book.”
This is one of those books where I finished and immediately thought, “WHY, oh WHY have I never read this before?” As I mentioned recently, I tend to love books about families, so that was in its favor from the beginning. Also, I fell in love with Cumbria when I was there a year ago, so although Big Grandma’s house is in a different part of the region, that also helped.
Really, when it comes down to it, this is just a fun, sweet story. I would have loved it when I was, say, twelve, but my 22-year-old self enjoyed it just as much. Back then, I would have been almost entirely caught up in the girls’ story, but now I read it with a lot more sympathy for and understanding of Big Grandma. Although McKay makes the fact that she has ulterior motives fairly obvious from the beginning, I think that the ten years between then-me and now-me allowed me to understand why Big Grandma acts as she does.
The four sisters (Ruth, Naomi, Rachel and Phoebe) are still delightful, though. I sympathize entirely with their voracious appetite for books. It’s literally a laugh out loud book–I can’t quite remember where I laughed especially hard, but these girls do manage to get themselves into situations. And they usually drag their friend Graham into them too.
For those who might be concerned about such things, there is a bit of language in this one (I don’t think there is in the sequel, but I can’t quite remember). I read past it personally.
Book source: public library
Book information: Macmillan, 1992