The giant's necklace by Michael Morpurgo
Ill. by Briony May Smith. Walker Books, 2016. ISBN 9781406357127
(Age: 10+) Recommended (with reservations for sensitive children) Themes: Ghosts; Death. Young Cherry, the only girl in her family, is keen to finish the excessively long 'Giant's Necklace' (a shell collection on a string) before the family leaves their beachside holiday home. Unfortunately, her focus on finishing the task prevents her from noticing the changing sea conditions, and this prevents her from leaving the shore safely. Her attempts to climb the cliff to escape the wild seas leads her to the old abandoned tin mine, where she encounters ghosts from a long ago mine collapse. Although Morpurgo cleverly leads the reader to think this is a story of survival, it is actually a ghost story and might be quite confronting for readers too young to deal with the grief-washed ending.
Morpurgo writes very engagingly with metaphor dripping from the pages, and simple scenarios of family life revealed in a way that children can connect to. The challenging theme of lives lost though may mean that this is one of Morpurgo's books that may need to be discussed with the child reader, rather than just placed in their hands. The illustrations by Briony May Smith are colourful and in a naive style, and perhaps may wrongly hint at a more light-hearted story.