Friday 14 June 2013

Katie Morag and the Big Boy Cousins by Mairi Hedderwick (Red Fox Picture Books)

If you're anything like me, the thought of spending summer in idyllic solitude is actually quite appealing. Heading up to the Scottish Islands for a summer of tranquility, rather than shouldering your way through the crowds at the airport or ending up in a hotel with a room above a herd of elephants who trumpet long into the night.

Such is Katie Morag's life, she lives on the island of Struay and it's a peaceful community.

Alas, every summer the "Big Boy Cousins" come to visit, and the villagers (who know their antics well) inwardly groan while Katie Morag finds their company exciting and full of adventure.

The Big Boy Cousins aren't interested in helping out around Granny Island's farm, they're more interested in playing silly tricks on the locals. Katie Morag is easily led astray by the big boy cousins, so to fit in with 'The Team' she joins them in their mischievous antics.

But is that the right thing to do?

Without being too finger-waggling moralistic, Katie Morag and the Big Boy Cousins tells a tale that could've been ripped from my childhood. Though I didn't spend summer on a remote Scottish island I'd often go and stay with my cousins (in Wales or in Wiltshire, they moved around a lot) and we'd inevitably get up to all sorts of shenanigans as the weeks rolled on.

Mairi Hedderwick writes with tenderness and an obvious great love of the highlands. Books like this are the perfect escape and Charlotte absolutely loved Katie Morag, a character who knows the right thing to do in the end to set things straight.

Charlotte's best bit: Roasting marshmallows on a camp fire (save the biggest one for her!)

Daddy's favourite bit: An idyllic setting, great knockabout characters and Katie Morag herself - star of many books in the series, and a great character to wrap such a wonderful story around.