Not As We Know It

Publisher: Andersen Press

Review

Where Jamie is cautious, Ned is fearless - you'd never know that they were twins, Ned has cystic fibrosis and looks so much younger than his brother. When they come across what looks to be a merman on one of their beach combing expeditions, Ned insists they take him home as their secret - he's the Captain Kirk of their mission to explore new life. They keep 'Leonard' in a bath-tub in the garage and Ned seems to form an instant connection with the mysterious creature. Jamie can only hope that his grandfather's sea stories are true and that this is the miracle that can save his brother.

Tom Avery's short but moving novel is packed with personality and fun references to its 80s setting. The mixture of magic and myth keep the drama from hitting too hard, and the inevitably sad ending is lifted into something more enchanting than heart-breaking. Pretty silhouette drawings and page design throughout makes this little gem feel even more special. Younger middle-grade readers desperate to get their teeth into something a little more serious will enjoy this sensitive story. The real life drama will appeal to fans of Jacqueline Wilson, but the main characters and smart production should have more luck with the boys.

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