Carnegie and Greenaway awards,  Little Book,  Middle grade

Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: Small Change For Stuart

Lissa Evans
Stuart Horten – ten years old and small for his age – moves to the dreary town of Beeton, far away from all his friends. And then he meets his new next-door neighbours, the unbearable Kingley triplets, and things get even worse.
But in Beeton begins the strangest adventure of Stuart’s life as he is swept up in quest to find his great-uncle’s lost workshop – a workshop stuffed with trickery and magic. There are clues to follow and puzzles to solve, but what starts as fun ends up as danger, and Stuart begins to realize that he can’t finish the task by himself . . .

Stuart Horten is a very short boy with very tall parents who has just moved far away to the place where his father grew up. There he finds that his family have a long history. His great-uncle, the fabulous magician Teeny Tiny Tony Horton and his glamorous assistant Lily disappeared years ago and Stuart is convinced there was something mysterious about their vanishing. He becomes convinced that finding his great-uncles long lost workshop holds the key and starts on adventure, joined by his ten year old neighbour and a blind elderly woman, to find it.
This is a truly lovely book. It’s perfect for children of Junior School age, but there is also an innocence to it that should charm adults. Lissa Evans has done a fantastic job at getting into the head of a ten year old boy who feels slightly outside of the world of ‘normal’ ten year olds because he is small and has slightly odd parents. Stuart has a naiveté that should appeal to both adults and children. The story enters the realm of magic and fantasy based in the normal human world, but is never totally unbelievable. More you get swept along with the story and want to believe when you reach the only part of the story that delves into the fantastical.
This is a fairly short book at 288 pages, unsurprising given who it is aimed at. It’s written in such a way that makes it an incredibly easy read and I finished it in less than two hours. It is very definitely a children’s book, but it’s the kind of book that you want to be able to read to your children, just so you are able to share in the magic too. Still not my favourite Carnegie shortlisted book so far, that remains ‘Between Shades of Grey’, ‘Small Change for Stuart’ currently comes in as a very close second.
Verdict: Innocent and charming, a book that will take both children and adults on a magical adventure.
Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Corgi Children’s
Publication Date: April 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 288
Genre: Magic, Fantasy
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: Debut Author

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