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Ella had started whining again. Gruffyd hadn’t seen Ella, and he turned abruptly to face her. “Just what is this?” he asked Harriet.

“That’s Ella Harrington. She’s a problem from our school. She’s not supposed to be here, but she followed me and says we’re going to get into trouble for leaving the museum. She says she’ll report all of this to her aunt Lila, who is a teacher who won’t hear anything said against Ella. Neither of them likes me, and I don’t know how I’ll deal with this yet.”

“Then allow me,” Gruffyd replied in his low, rumbly voice. “Maybe Ella needs a small lesson in life.” He uttered some strange words and pointed a long middle talon at Ella’s head. Suddenly, Ella shrank to the size of Harriet’s thumb. Her protesting voice came out as a tiny squeak. Harriet exploded with laughter, as the stress and tension of what had happened released.

“What happens now?’

“Put her in your pocket for a while, but make sure you give her some air when needed.”…..from Harriet and the Secret Coins.

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Title: Harriet and the Secret Rings

Reviewer:   Sandra Bennett

Author: Debra Clewer

Genre/readership: MG

This was a delightful read packed full of adventure and learning. When Harriet’s 4th grade teacher sets a history assignment on ancient civilisations, she teams up with her best friend, Will, to do their research at the local library. Whilst in the private research room for reserved books, Harriet discovers an old book that intrigues her curiosity. As she flips through the pages, she soon uncovers a surprising secret. The book holds several jewelled rings that transport Harriet and Will to ancient civilisations. Through their travels back in time we learn about life in ancient Rome, Philippi in ancient northern Greece and Medieval England. The story is engaging, fast paced and fascinating as we learn so much about a day in the life of each of these interesting eras. I admit my favourite time was meeting Robin Hood and his band of merry men including Maid Marion as they persuade the Sheriff of Nottingham to mend his ways, but both ancient Roman and Greece are equally enticing. There is plenty of suspense and thrills to keep the young reader turning the pages, like being chased down an ancient Roman street by a soldier who accuses Harriet of stealing or being forced into a dark, damp gaol cell with a crowd in ancient Greece. How they escape and the result of each adventure is informative and clever. I found this story was a fabulous way for kids to read and learn about people from the past and the many battles that their daily lives encountered. It may even encourage readers with curiosity to research further. It was a thoroughly enjoyable adventure that kids 8 -10 will equally appreciate. I gave this story 5 out 5 stars.



Book Review: Harriet and the Secret Rings

Author: Debra Williams (Clewer)

Genre: Middle-Grade

Reviewer: Elizabeth Klein

As all great stories, this one begins and ends in a library and involves two children who discover something fantastical in one of the books. When Harriet and Will are set a project by their teacher to research an ancient civilisation, they get more than they bargained for when they discover three magic rings in one of the reference books that have power to transport them back in time. What child doesn’t like the idea of finding a magic ring?

The first ring—studded with green garnets—spirits Harriet (or Harry as she is sometimes referred to) away into an ancient Roman family where a slave girl piques her compassion. Together with Will, they find a marvellous way to release the slave girl who can then be reunited with her family. The next ring, made with amethysts, transports the two friends back to the Biblical days of Saint Paul and Silas who are arrested for being ‘trouble-makers’. Harriet and Will also find themselves arrested and sent to gaol where an earthquake shakes things up and they manage to escape. The last ring, made of gold and sapphires, conveys them to Sherwood Forest, where they meet Robin Hood and his merry men. Aspects of the ‘normal’ world collide with the fantastic in this section with the arrival of a red dragon and talking toadstools.

Here, the story is likened to A Christmas Carol when the children join with Maid Marion and the poor people to show the Sheriff all the evils that his heavy taxes have forced them to endure. Through clever trickery, they reveal how everyone is suffering because of his greed and, like Scrooge, he sets about making changes for the betterment of society.

Young children will enjoy this interesting and enjoyable book, which lends itself to many more rings, adventures and glimpses into past lives of historical legends. There are loads of ideas in library resource books for author, Debra Clewer, where I’m sure she’ll catch the vague sound of whispering voices among those dusty, unopened pages.