Review Blog

Jul 18 2010

Ice Lolly by Jean Ure

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Harper Collins, 2010.
(Ages 9+) Recommended. When teen fiction as a genre began to grow, Jean Ure was there at the forefront and I have fond memories of devouring A Proper Little Nooryeff and See You Thursday during my own adolescence. In recent years Ure has focused more on pre-teens and her books always combine realism with warmth and gentle humour that leave readers both satisfied and secure.
After Mum dies Laurel has to live with her Mum's brother and his family. Under duress the ghastly Aunty Ellen allows Laurel to keep her beloved but elderly cat, Mr Pooter. However, life is far from easy as Laurel grieves for her unconventional Mum, struggles at her new school and develops an ice queen persona to keep her feelings under wraps. Her twin consolations are her love of books and her relationship with the sympathetic school librarian, Mrs Caton.
When Mr Pooter develops kidney problems and Aunty Ellen wants him 'dealt with' Laurel decides to run away. It's only when an old friend of her Mum appears on the scene that Laurel and Mr Pooter finally find someone who is on their side.
This is a gentle story which gets under the skin - the account of Laurel's books being boxed up and banished to the attic and her abortive visit to Mrs Caton during the school holidays really resonated. Laurel's avoidance of emotion is sensitively handled and the warm and fuzzy ending makes this suitable for younger readers who are just beginning to investigate the complexities of families and relationships.
Ice Lolly may not provide the gritty realism of Jacqueline Wilson, but there is sufficient heartache and drama for young readers to really feel for Laurel, while giving them the reassurance and pleasure of a 'happily ever after' conclusion.
Claire Larson

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