The Book That Made Me: Philip Reeve 16/10/19
The Great Ice Cream Heist
Shy Eva leads a quiet life with her protective Dad, day-dreaming about being a brave and powerful superhero who can save the day. When the McIntyre family move in next door, Eva is intrigued: their boisterous, chaotic, noisy existence is the opposite of her safe, orderly routine. She is especially curious about Jamie, whom she often sees escaping the rest of the family on the roof of the garden shed. When Grandma decides it's time for Eva to be more indepndent, and persuades Dad to send her to the local youth centre over the summer holidays, she has the chance to get to know Jamie better and the two swiftly become friends. But then everything goes wrong and Jamie is in trouble. Eva knows it's down to her to help him, even if it means upsetting Dad in the process. But who could ever have imagined that quiet Eva would kidnap a social worker, broadcast live on the radio and go on the run in an ice-cream van - all to help a friend in need?
The Great Ice Cream Heist may be Elen Caldecott's best novel yet. Warm-hearted, moving and never heavy handed, it approaches a range of issues including bereavement, dysfunctional families and children in care with sensitivity and directness. Timid but loyal and determined Eva is a wonderfully sympathetic heroine, and readers will enjoy witnessing her getting outside her comfort zone, overcoming her fears, making new friends, and even addressing her embarassment about her difficulties with reading - all to help someone she cares about. Poignant yet full of humour and fun, this is a carefully-balanced story with a clear message about the value of friends, family and the local community - and the importance of not judging others.