The Stickleback Catchers

Publisher: Puffin

Mimi lives with her gran and grandad above the bowls club. One day, after Gran forgets a few basic things, cracks start appearing in the walls – and only Mimi can see them. Then a crow starts following Mimi everywhere. Something is going on that Gran and Grandad aren’t telling her, involving secret talks with a strange man, and Mimi is scared. She must work out how to stop the cracks from spreading. Luckily, she has a new friend Titch, and together they are the Stickleback Catchers. In their den by the river, they realise they’ll need the help of the Puzzler – a mysterious figure who’s good at unravelling mysteries. But can they save Gran?

This is a moving story about a grandparent with dementia, with original and often scary magical realism touches. Auton explores friendship – Mimi is still working out how to be a good friend and not always succeeding – and community. There’s a real sense of community among the bowls regulars, and both grandparents are strong characters. Another plus is the inclusive portrayal of disability and illness – Mimi uses crutches as she’s wobbly without them, and another new friend, Nus, hardly leaves her bed. They are accepted as they are by each other and by Titch. A thought-provoking read.

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