Miss Mary-Kate Martin's guide to monsters by Karen Foxlee

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The title Miss Mary-Kate Martin's Guide to Monsters - The Wrath of the Woolington Wrym suggests the tone for this whimsical new book written by versatile Australian author Karen Foxlee. Devotees of the moving multi-award winning 2018 Lenny's book of everything, set in a small apartment in suburban Ohio and the powerful emotive and atmospheric Dragonskin of 2021, set in the vast, harsh Australian outback country will be amazed at Foxlee's Miss Mary-Kate Martin's Guide to Monsters- The Wrath of the Woolington Wrym being set in a quintessential old English village called Woolington Well (map provided). As always Foxlee's setting performs powerfully and provides a very visual and almost visceral backdrop to the storyline. 

 There is a wrym(not a worm) and it is rumoured to be eating children in the village of Woolington Well.  Our anxious and possibly obsessive and slightly compulsive protagonist Mary Kate accompanies her mother Professor Martin, an archaeologist who was asked by the Wrym Watch Society to investigate the village green area for evidence of artefacts pointing to the existence of a wrym. Lord Woolington of Woolington Hall is keen to build a large shopping centre on top of the village green; the heavy earthworks have begun. Since then frightening noises, earth tremors and sightings have occurred; a trail of brown slime has been left through the town and a wall has been broken by something very large. Old English mythology and legend clash with modern progress. The right for creatures to exist in their own habitats against the onslaught of human development is at the heart of the story.

Into this steps our heroine, Mary Kate. She follows a breadcrumb trail of clues, finds a new friend and in her quest to save the mythical beast, learns to believe in herself and face all sorts of fearful situations.

In the acknowledgements, Foxlee notes that..."there are many wonderful wrym legends in the British Isles"... and various towns that are associated with them. She adapted aspects of these tales to write this story.

Miss Mary-Kate Martin's Guide to Monsters - The Wrath of the Woolington Wrym is a delightful, beautifully written story with a plucky, determined, very likeable and slightly quirky little female detective at its centre. The good news is that Mary Kate's legendary adventures will continue in The trouble with the two-headed Hydra. Once readers have discovered Miss Mary-Kate Martin, they will be asking for more. Teacher's tips are available.

Themes: Friendship, Courage, English myths, Detective work.

Wendy Jeffrey