Small Change for Stuart
This is a book of puzzles, magic and adventure. It has many classic features of a fast-paced story: children adventuring out on their own, the annoying triplets, adults who seem oblivious to what is going on, adults who are up to no good, and adults who are real goodies.
Stuart Horten is small for his age and if his parents had had any sense they would have realised that S. Horten would lead to a nickname no boy would choose. Then his mother gets a new job and the family move, at the beginning of the summer holidays to an extremely dull town. However, the town hides a secret that is directly related to Stuart. His great-uncle Tony who had disappeared years before was a magician and Stuart must uncover some secrets.
The title, Small Change for Stuart, has so many meanings hidden in it that it could make you groan –as do many of the jokes throughout the book. Lissa Evans plays with language and text in ways that are entirely satisfactory in a music hall sort of way, which suits the story down to the ground.
I think that this would read aloud well, and put in the hands of the right child to begin with, is likely to be popular. I love the treasure hunt element of the story and the way that language and clear images play a part in the way clues are constructed and plot twists occur.
Big Change for Stuart is the next stage in the story and doesn’t disappoint. I was going to say that I couldn’t put Small Change for Stuart down, and it is a real page turner, but I do have to confess, that it is the book I dropped in the bath.