Spark by M.G. Leonard

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Jack and Twitch are good friends, and since they solved a crime mystery (recorded in Twitch) they have been ready for more birdwatching and perhaps more crime solving. Jack is new to birdwatching and is yet to find his ‘spark bird’ the one that drives the desire and passion to become an avid avian watcher, but he would really like to solve another mystery. When he discovers a wounded cat and realises there is someone in his community who is shooting cats, it sparks his desire to solve the crime. But Twitch’s attention is diverted by the reported potential sighting of the very rare bird – a Bearded Vulture, and Jack is having difficulty getting Twitch to engage as a mystery solver because of the rare bird possibility. A violent storm, the local bullies, Halloween and a grand event hosted by a woman who has nefarious interests in the rare bird all complicate Jack’s attempts to foil the cat shooters and stop an attack on the rare bird. With other friends using their talents to help, and even zombies used to unveil the truth, this story has many twists and turns. Friendship is the winner.

The first book in this series, Twitch, was delightful, and this follow-up story has continued the charming focus on a group of friends in a small English community with an interest in Birdwatching. Although this is probably not a hobby many young Australians have discovered, the desire to protect wildlife must first start with knowing what is there, and so this book will perhaps open the eyes of young Aussie readers. This mystery and adventure will appeal to any reader who likes fast-paced crime-solving antics with curious children leading the way. I loved the story and having an avid birdwatcher in my family means that I recognised the focused and passionate spark that drives many to watch the skies and fields for a new sighting. This is a great book to recommend to readers aged 9-12 who love an adventure.

Themes: Birdwatching, Mystery, Adventure, Friendship.

Carolyn Hull