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McKay, Hilary: Binny in Secret.

McKay, Hilary

Binny in Secret

Hodder, 2015, pp272, 10.99 [pounds sterling]

978 1 444 91340 8

Binny has a college-going, flute-playing elder sister Clem, and a six year-old nightmare of a brother, James. Both of them are self-confident and make friends easily. Binny, though, finds life at her new secondary school in Cornwall insufferable. She falls foul of two influential classmates, Clare and Ella, is labelled a stuck-up grockle, and is mercilessly bullied. Then the roof of the family house blows off and they all have to move into temporary holiday accommodation. The plot-line up to this point suggests the book might be a bleak read, but it is not; we sympathize with Binny but we see how she makes trouble for herself and we can enjoy the truly horrible James and the jagular that eats his hen. In fact, the jagular turns out to be a lynx (or is it?), and in saving it from Clare's trigger-happy brother, Binny, finds new friendships.

There is an interesting parallel story set a century earlier and, helpfully for the reader, printed in (rather fidgety) Fairfield type instead of the classic Garamond of Binny's story. Clarry and her brother Peter are two academically minded children who back in 1912 created a museum which Binny and Clare find and investigate. The two stories intertwine neatly. Clare as a one-year-old had been seen by the centenarian Clarry (after whom she was named). Peter was as unhappy at his Edwardian boarding school as Binny is at her Cornish small-town day school, while both have the inner resources to cope with their difficulties.

Curiously, the book's end-papers only make sense to those who have read the preceding and delightful Binny for Short, but as a story Binny in Secret is self-contained. Warmly recommended, especially perhaps for those in the early stages of secondary schooling.

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Author:Axford, Martin
Publication:School Librarian
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2015
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