Review Blog

Aug 17 2017

Pip and Houdini by J. C. Jones

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Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760296056
(Age: 8-11) Highly recommended. Missing persons. Runaways. Dogs. Adventure stories. Resilience. J. C. Jones' popular Run, Pip, run introduced us to the feisty young Pip Sullivan whose search for her birth mother Cass motivates her every move. She only has one clue to her past life, an old postcard from Byron Bay. Pip's moved into a new foster home with the Brownings who are planning to adopt her, but trouble seems to follow her at every turn. She has a short fuse and does not tolerate classmates who blab her past secrets at school. After hitting Spiro on the nose, Pip is banned from the class trip to see the African dinosaur at the museum. With her faithful dog Houdini and a little luck, Pip's decisions land her in more trouble. How can one ten-year-old girl who is 'as skinny as a piece of string' become a runaway again and set off on a lengthy journey to northern New South Wales? Escape artist Houdini joins her for this difficult and challenging trip, filled with danger and excitement.
Happenstance plays a major role in Pip and Houdini's trip. First they fall asleep in the back of an old van that is heading in the right direction, north on the motorway. After a fiery accident and a daring rescue of the trapped driver, the two travellers walk, catch buses and meet up with a cast of interesting characters along the way. Money is scarce and so is food and shelter, but Pip's bravery, resilience and dogged determination drive her forward.
When she meets Frankie a homeless busker, the pace picks up and they stay just ahead of the authorities who are searching for the runaway girl. Pip stands up for her new friend, even washing the dishes at a cafe as payment for Frankie's stolen hamburger. The adventure continues with lucky escapes, train rides, a journey on an old bicycle left on the footpath and Houdini's capture by the dogcatcher.
With a shark sighting, a surfer with a tattoo of an octopus wearing a top hat and a strangely recognisable old house, Pip's emotional journey draws to a close. J C Jones Pip and Houdini is a heart-warming story of one girl's courage and determination to find her own family.
Rhyllis Bignell

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