Monday, 22 March 2010

Fire Mask by Franzeska G Ewart

February 2010, Barrington Stoke
72 pages, Paperback
Review Copy

Children's, thriller

Interest age: 9-12 years
Reading age: 8 years

Cushions: 2
Smiles: 3
Tissues: 3
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Summary from Barrington Stoke

When Josh's ex-best friend and her new mate play a nasty trick on him at school, he swears revenge. He knows just the way to do it - with his horrific fire mask! The class trip to the museum seems like the perfect time to get them back, but will Josh's trick end in tragedy? Thriller written in conjunction with primary schools in Midlothian, Scotland.

I liked how the cover is based on a winning design in a competition. It's rather scary, not something I would want to meet day or night. Or something the characters wanted to meet either...

The illustrations add an extra layer of realism to the story. For some boys, it is real. With all the conflict in the world, this story is someone's life, out there in the world. I think it may help readers who are going through a similar experience come to terms with what is going on. It may also help explain to their friends, without them having to explain what they think and feel about the injury their parent has. My favourite illustration was the one in the museum - I love museums and I wanted to be there, looking at the exhibits.

Josh appears to be a typical teenager, not wanting to talk about his emotions, and being very reluctant to write his feelings down as he is advised. But the writing is better than talking so he does it. Learning about his father involves powerful writing that had me holding my breath in-between paragraphs.

Josh understandably has a lot of anger about the situation his father is in. I like the worries that he voices to himself about what the future holds for his father, and their own relationship.

Sadly his grandmother's way of coping doesn't put knitting in a good light. I ask that readers remember knitted items can be contemporary and as good as any which are sold in shops. Her creation isn't something I would let out of the house, but she did try really hard to make Josh happy.

His friend Sandy turns away from him and is best friends with another girl. I think that maybe Sandy knew that Josh was holding his emotions back and not saying the truth. Perhaps by doing this he wasn't trusting her to be understanding of what was happening. She was hurt by this lack of trust, which is why she sought friendship elsewhere. I was truly shocked at what she did. I knew Tiffany wasn't nice, but I didn't believe, from what Josh had said, that Sandy would have a dramatic personality change and be cruel. I feel that Sandy was taken over by Tiffany's domineering personality, that she was bullied into being cruel. She is also blackmailed into further horrific acts.

I like how the reason why Josh is in hospital is kept back from the reader for most of the story. It kept me in suspense, wanting to find out what he did as he deals with the consequences of his action. Admittedly I thought he did one thing, but thanks to the story twist he did the opposite, which changed my view of him by the end.

What Josh does at the end brought out the tissues for me. It's what a lot of people do when life is a bit strange. Putting on a brave face for the world isn't wrong, so long as that mask is removed for a few people to let the suppressed feelings out every now and then.

Franzeska can be found on her website here.

For another intriguing read, check out Twisting the Truth by Judy Waite


Book Monster said...

Never heard of this one before, but the cover looks awesome!!

Yunaleska said...

Thanks! Interview with Franzeska will be happening soon.