Review Blog

Mar 22 2009

Frozen in time by Ali Sparkes

cover image

OUP, 2009.
(Ages 9+)Highly recommended. This is a glorious romp of a novel with a marvellous plot, likeable, realistic characters and a satisfying ending. These days so many children's books seem to be aimed at boys and it's good to read a novel that will have universal appeal to both sexes.
Ben and Rachel have resigned themselves to a long, boring summer and when the TV blows up it's the final straw. They mooch into the wild, overgrown garden and by chance stumble across a hidden underground vault. There they discover two children who have been in cryonic suspension since 1956.
How will Freddy and Polly adapt to twenty first century life? After being in suspension for so long will their bodies cope with the strain? More importantly what became of Polly and Freddy's father, a government scientist in 1956 and mysteriously missing for the last 53 years? Sparkes weaves a web of mystery around the peculiar disappearance of the scientist who had discovered a secret that the Russians were keen to get their hands on. Was he a spy perhaps, or even a double agent? The children decide to investigate, but other people are on the case too, including a shifty librarian of rather dubious provenance.
This is such a clever idea and Ali Sparkes pulls it off brilliantly. The clash of cultures is hysterical in places. Rachel has the unenviable task of explaining to Freddy and Polly why these days you can no longer say something is 'as gay as nine-pence'. The children discover that a Whopper is a kind of burger rather than a large fib, and how do you explain the internet to someone whose idea of fun is listening to dishy Max Bygraves on the wireless? Today's PC youngsters will be fascinated and amused by the language and behaviour of two 1950s children. This is such a jolly ripping read; in fact it's an absolute hoot! Ginger pop anyone?
Claire Larson

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