The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods

The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods

The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods
Samuel J. Halpin

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781474945660

This is the story of a sleepy town called Suds. A place where stories fill the air of children who keep turning grey and disappearing without a trace... Poppy and Erasmus are certain there's something peculiar going on in Suds, and they're determined to unravel its secrets. But when they discover the answers might lie in the dark and twisting woods, can they find the courage to creep inside and solve this riddling mystery?

Librarian's Book choice

I knew from the first chapter that I was going to enjoy this book. It has a wonderful way of mixing the very ordinary with the extraordinary. The story takes place in a village where the people 'aren't any kinder or meaner than any other town. The library doesn't have better books. The post doesn't come any faster, and the mutton pies are just as delicious as the ones two towns over.' So what is the secret of the little town of Suds?

When Poppy first arrives to stay with her Grandma, we know that something is amiss. When making a cup of tea, she has to keep the sugar hidden. But why? Gran has a set of rules that must be followed: All washing must be done during the day; Bring your clothes in off the washing line (even if they are wet) before six o'clock every night; All sugar cubes are to be kept under lock and key; At night close your window, lock it, draw the curtains. NEVER, DON'T YOU EVER, dust the window sills.

Poppy stays with Gran whilst Dad is away working. Gran has a pig, a pig called Churchill. He's adorable and seems to be the perfect addition to the story. Gran is a seamstress with amazing talents and Suds is the place to obtain the finest cloth in all the world. Mystery surrounds how such beautiful material is made in Suds and this is where traditional fairy tales take a slightly sinister twist. Children are vanishing, fading away, becoming mute and ghost-like. Poppy and her new-found, quirky friend, Erasmus, set out to find the truth.

The details and descriptions in this book are simply delicious; characters are described with vivid colour and microscopic detail 'the pencil stuck like a hatpin through Eliza's silver hair, which looked like someone had dolloped a scoop of whiskery marshmallow fluff on her head.'

Not only is the Peculiar Peggs a gripping tale of mystery and peril, it is a story that touches that heart. Poppy is dealing with the loss of her beloved mother and her grief is a theme that is the heartbeat of the story. The reader wants to comfort Poppy, to take away her fears and to reunite her with a Dad who has demons of his own. Erasmus is a conundrum, just like the puzzles he loves to solve. He is a bright, problem-solving boy who lives with a mother who neglects him. She is the only problem that he can't seem to solve.

With gritted determination, Poppy and Erasmus set out to discover where the missing children have gone to. The power of their friendship and the strength of the love that they hold in their hearts proves to be the force that will overcome the evils that are clouding the lives of the Suds residents.

This is a pacey, edge-of-your seat tale with a big heart - a film of it would be incredible, but, until that time, grab a copy and enjoy!

352 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jo Clarke, school librarian.