Whitbread Book Award-winning author Hilary McKay is no stranger to high praise, but for Saffy's Angel she really deserves the top honours. This heavenly little book tells the story of Cadmium, Saffron, Indigo and Rose--siblings who are each as colourful as their exotic names suggest.
Close-knit and divinely eccentric, the family (under the not-so-stable guidance of their mother Eve and their weary father, Bill) chug along quite nicely until one day Saffron discovers she was adopted by the family following the death of her mother, Eve's twin sister. As Saffron tries to come to terms with the shocking news, her grandfather dies and bequeaths her a stone angel in his will. But where is it? Saffron, her remarkable family and her new found friend, Sarah, embark on a search that sees Saffy heading for Sienna in Italy while her brother and sisters determine to leave no stone unturned in their quest for the cherub they know will make all the difference in the world to their beloved adopted sister.
Saffy's Angel is written with a simple, understated elegance that allows the reader access to the kind of family we would all, secretly, love to belong to. Each character is drawn with an enviable artistry coupled with, one suspects, a tongue-in the cheek that adds a sharp realistic air to a modern household with a heart of pure, old-fashioned gold. And it is these fabulous characters who lead the unfurling of the story, easing the reader through the pages with an irresistible wit and warmth that smartly avoids cosiness but nonetheless leaves a soothing rosy glow.
Marvellous stuff from a marvellous author who has the potential to knock even the queen of children's fiction, Jacqueline Wilson, off her perch, this sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking book is a must-read. And don't be put off by the pinkness of the packaging: it might look terribly girly, but at the heart of the matter is a fantastically straightforward, deeply satisfying, superior read for anyone who has a heart and a few hours to spare. Suitable for ages 10 and over. --Susan Harrison