The International Writers Magazine: Juvenile Fiction Review
Rose by Hilary McKay
Hodder Childrens Books
Katie Baillie review
Permanent Rose is the coolest name on the planet!
Nearly-nine year old Permanent
Rose sees her world crashing down as her brothers best
friend Tom moves back to America. Rose has felt close to Tom ever
since he said her name was the coolest, and now she feels incomplete
not falling in love, definitely not; Falling is by accident. I
didnt fall in anything! After having heard nothing from
him for weeks Rose embarks on a quest (inspired by Sir Lancelot in the
books her brother Indigo reads to her) to find out what happened to
Rose enters the narrative awash with colour from her own blue and red
biro tattoos, a foreshadowing of her colourful character, that as soon
as David (AKA MarcusJoshPatrick) compliments her for, she decides simply
must come off. Here begins the tale of a girl driven to painting on
walls (as well as herself!) and shoplifting guitar picks in order to
quell her ache for Tom to return home.
So welcome to the quirky Casson family where the children are all named
after colours of paint; Permanent Rose, Cadmium Gold (Caddy) and Indigo.
Their cousin Saffron lives with them and their mother Eve, the artist.
Rose has many unusual tribulations to deal with within her family; a
mother who sleeps on a pink sofa in the shed, her sister Caddy, a university
student engaged to a boyfriend she doesnt actually like, a cousin
called Saffron on a quest to find her real father, her brother, Indigo,
who subjects Rose to spending time with his enormous-vegetable-henchman
friend David, and their father Bill who lives in London and has a new
girlfriend. This hotchpotch of dilemmas leaves Rose feeling she must
take matters into her own hands in finding out what happened to Tom.
She visits Toms Grandmas house looking for clues to whats
happened. Later she gets on a train with her sister Caddy to visit their
father who, to Roses delight, is flying to America the next morning.
Rose cant resist the opportunity of going to find Tom standing
under a sign saying New York and tries her best to convince
her dad to take her too.
As well as Roses troubles there are several subplots that run
along side. For instance Caddys engagement with Michael and her
losing her engagement ring (that Rose has taken), Saffrons desire
to uncover the truth about her real father, Caddy escaping to London,
the barbeque. Surprisingly despite there being so many other little
stories going on they never take any focus from the main plot, rather
emphasising Roses plight.
It is extremely hard not to fall head-over-heals in love with Rosy
poses combination of fiery determination and childhood naivety
in her wild notions of tracking down Tom. She even treks all the way
across town to Toms Grandmas house where she drops Caddys
diamond and platinum ring, David rescues it and they become friends.
Rose is easy to relate to; she counts the exact amount of time that
Tom has been gone while insisting shes not in love with him, she
hates her brothers friend David, she thinks that if she takes
Caddys engagement ring Caddy cant give it back to Michael,
all the kind of thoughts a nearly-nine year old has.
Its heart-warming and light to read; the plot and subplots never
get more intense than the moment Rose loses her sisters engagement
ring. The subplots all cleverly mesh together and link back to the main
character adding humour to the main plot. Although there are about ten
or so principal characters they are not hard to keep track of and each
are as loveable as Rose.
Overall the book is fun and not easily forgettable. It is jam packed
with different adventures and events that can happen to a nearly-nine
year old and its easy to connect with the main character. The
comical element makes it quite a cheerful read and will inspire young
readers to be as brave and adventurous as Rose, while slightly older
readers like myself will be left thinking, why wasnt I that
daring at that age?
© Katie Baillie March 2006
kitkatkb at ntlworld.com
Children's Book Reviews
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