Kate is not happy about moving to the countryside, leaving her friends behind, and having to start over at another new school, but she’s just a kid, what can she do about it? She really wants her parents to be happy, but she finds reading so hard, and the teachers think she’s stupid. Dad loves the new house, and insists he will be able to fix it up and make it into their ideal home, but he lacks the DIY skills and one disaster follows another. After much arguing, Mum decides she can’t cope with it, and she is needed at work back in London, so she leaves.
Suddenly Kate realises that she has to do something. She has to try to learn to read and to make things better at school, and she also decides that she will do her bit towards making the new house a home and sort out the garden, which her Mum was attracted to when she first saw the house, but remains a mess. With the help of her new friends, Louise and her grandfather Walter, Kate plans to create a beautiful garden and save her family.
I read a lot of teen/YA fiction but I hadn’t read any younger children’s literature for a long time, and when I decided to read this short novel as it has similar themes to the YA book I am writing, I didn’t expect to be absorbed by it. To my surprise I loved Green Fingers! The characterisation is great, lots of serious issues are explored but the tone is optimistic, and I kept turning the pages and cried at the end! Kate is a sympathetic, determined girl and I really enjoyed my time with her. It’s nicely modern too – Kate’s Mum has a job in the city that she loves, whilst her Dad works from home on his computer and takes care of the children.
I think it is just the right length, although I was sad to leave the characters and put the book down.
I think this book is aimed at 8-13 year old children, and it strikes me as a particularly good book for reading aloud. There are illustrations at the start of each section and chapter, these were drawn by Sian Bailey. Paul May has written seven other fiction books and seven non-fiction books for children, and on his website he says that Green Fingers is his favourite book. I would definitely recommend this to my own cousins!