Released at the beginning of the month, The Secret Starling is the debut Middle Grade (age 8-12) book by Judith Eagle. There’s been lots of excitement about it on Twitter, so I was keen to read it as soon as it was released. Clara lives with her mean uncle in a crumbling, old manor house, where she is home-schooled and has little contact with the outside world. With fortunes rapidly declining, the staff leave, prized possessions begin to disappear and Clara’s uncle abandons her with just a handful of cash to survive on. Luckily, a young lad called Peter, along with his rescue cat, arrive at the door and the 2 children quickly strike up a friendship, determined to remain in the old house. However, after finding out that the house is to be sold, and subsequently discovering an old ballet shoe under the floorboards, Clara realises that things are not quite as they seem…

This is a cracking mystery story, which has a good old ‘classic’ feel to it. Set in the early 70s, with references to The Galloping Gourmet (if you don’t know what that is, then you are too young for your own good!), it’s full of adventure, intrigue, twists and turns and a fair few dastardly grown-ups. The plot has been cleverly devised and enhanced by gutsy, inquisitive characters, and the exciting story culminates in a satisfying and heart-warming ending. It’s a really super read and is suitable for the entire Middle Grade age range.

The Secret Starling:

Author: Judith Eagle
Illustrator: Kim Geyer
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 9780571346301
Paperback: 272 pages

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