A corner of white by Jaclyn Moriarty
The Colours of Madeleine, 1. PanMacmillan, 2012. ISBN 9781742611396.
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Madeleine Tully has just moved to Cambridge, England with her mother. Things are strange and different and become even weirder when she spots a corner of white, the edge of a letter, in a crack and a whole new world is opened up for her. She starts writing to Elliot Baranski, who lives in a parallel universe, the Kingdom of Cello, in a small town called Bonfire, where dangerous Colours attack randomly and the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar.
This is a highly original and mesmerising story that I couldn't put down when I first read it. The beautiful city of Cambridge comes alive but it is that strange place, the Kingdom of Cello, that truly kept me immersed in the story. It is so different from our World but the places and people are drawn so vividly that it came alive for me. Not only is the setting vivid, the atmosphere of brooding evil from the dangerous Colours and the tests that Elliot had to overcome were amazing.
Moriarty's characters, too, were finely described. Madeleine's humour and intelligence shine through in her letters to Elliot, her anguish over her mother's illness and her struggles with her friendships in the world all make the story believable. Elliot is such a compassionate and clever boy that I was holding my breath throughout the story, hoping all would be well in his world. The secondary characters, Jack and Belle, and the adults, are no less complex and this adds even more interest to the story.
Children who are interested in science will revel in the fact that it is woven seamlessly through the story. Madeleine is reading about Isaac Newton and prisms and that people like Ada Lovelace, 'The one who made friends with Charles Babbage and invented computer programming' pg 334, form part of the story. The idea of colours having power and that some of them are dangerous is so unique and will be sure to have readers thinking about colour theory.
I feel in awe of the imagination and writing skills of Jaclyn Moriarty, who has been able to create such a challenging setting, such rich ideas, humour, exciting adventures and fabulous characters. This is a book that is likely to win awards and become a children's classic and it is fabulous that it is the first in a trilogy.