Review Blog

Aug 14 2012

Poppy's hero by Rachel Billington

cover image

Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2012. ISBN 9781847801920. 276pp.
(Ages: 10+ ) Primary school student Poppy learns that her father, Big Frank, is in Grisewood Slops, a prison not far from where she lives in England. Convinced that he is innocent, she conspires with friend Will to help her father escape. Poppy has to also contend with her unsupportive friends and her distressed Polish mother, Irene. Freeing a prison inmate is not as easy as it would seem, apparently, and plans are not helped by Big Frank being transferred to an island prison further from home.
This novel deals with the effects of imprisonment on family life and depicts prison visiting realistically. We see the impact of a prison sentence on several inmates and learn that rehabilitation isn't always achieved. Thus this novel ventures into little explored territory for this age group. There is also the theme of learning to accept your parents as they are.
Unfortunately, Poppy and her friends seem alarmingly naive and never stop to think through the possible consequences of their plans. Poppy doesn't even enquire why her father is in prison until the end of the novel. A sense of anticipation drives the novel but sustaining interest may be a problem for many readers.
Kevyna Gardner

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