Itâ€™s Inverness, 1889, and in Barbara Henderson’s,Â Punch, 12-year-old Phin is accused of a terrible crime.
When he flees – in the unlikely company of an escaped prisoner and a group of travelling entertainers â€“ he enters a new world of Punch and Judy shows and dancing bears.Â But will Phin clear his name?Â And what can he do when memories of a darker, more terrible crime begin to haunt him?
First and foremost, Punch is a great childrenâ€™s story. Itâ€™s dramatic and daring, itâ€™s warm and the setting â€“ both location and time period â€“ is vividly brought to life. Then, Barbara Henderson manages the tricky task of portraying historical characters and places as ones with which modern-day children and young people can easily identify. Victorian Scotland comes fully to life and Phin is a realistic and engaging storyteller.
It’s also a beautifully written story (always important but a bonus when looking for books for younger, newer readers) that is easy to read but has the depth that makes it a good read for children and for adults.
A worthy follow-up to Hendersonâ€™s historical debut, Fir for Luck.
Published by Cranachan. Paperback, Â£6.99. Also available as an eBook