Review Blog

Nov 29 2013

The Kensington Reptilarium by N.J. Gemmell

cover image

Random House, 2013. ISBN 97808577980502.
(Ages 9+) Recommended. The story is set just after the conclusion of World War II. Four Aussie, outback children, The Caddy Kids, are going about their lives, albeit unusual ones, surviving and awaiting the return of their Father from service. They seem a pretty hardy bunch and when they are notified that their Father is actually missing (by a stranger who is also there to transport them to England), the adventure deepens. However after entrusting their chaperone to see them safely placed with their long lost relative overseas, their long lost relative isn't all that keen for the children to actually stay with him. Uncle Basti happens to prefer the company of, and is also the keeper of, deadly creatures. Well this is juicy!
It's very hard not to feel a tinge of anxiety for The Caddy's plight but for readers of a similar age, I'm sure Kick and company will evoke a comradarie that takes them along for the ride. Resilience and maturity are themes within the book, and the children often demonstrate more adult behaviour than the adults do. The title itself will generate interest for many readers, both boys and girls, and it's interesting to note that The Kensington Reptilarium did actually exist at this time. The writing style is slightly reminiscent of Enid Blyton's Famous 5, or perhaps this is simply due to the time the story is set in.
Cathy Nias

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