|Granny Rags by Janet Reid|
"This junior family thriller that embodies a not-so-fearsome witch, bullyboys, petty crooks and a mystery to be solved, moves at an un-put-down-able pace. This is just the right sort of book to help establish the 'reading bug'.
Tim Trickett is a new boy at a small rural school and prey to the bullyboys because of his diffidence socially and physically. He also has an over-protective mother and a physical ailment that he seeks to keep secret.
Fortunately for him, before the term begins he meets Lockie, an outgoing, broadly spoken boy from the neighbourhood who acts as a social buffer for Tim. Lockie's family is well-grounded working class; Tim's father is a DON, Director of Nursing at the local hospital. This itself gives grist to the bullies, who relentlessly present Tim the challenging initiation test that involves him facing up to the reclusive Granny Rags, the local 'witch'.
Tim, urged on by Lockie, not only passes that test, but also perceives that there is another face to Granny Rags. Moreover, the two boys become aware of threats to the old lady by local crooks. Old mysteries buried in the past come to light when the Schoolmaster sets the class ferreting out local history.
The plot moves rapidly, yet never loses its grounding in social reality. There is freshness in the references not only to the Harry Potter books, but sly digs at prevailing adult tastes. There is much merit in this seemingly easy to read story of small town country life."
- MS, Reading Time