Big debut for little Stuart

(Review of Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans)

The opening of a mysterious money box and a cache of old threepenny bits is the start of a magical adventure for Stuart Horten (10, but looks younger).
Stuart has just moved to a new town with his crossword-puzzle-compiler father, and busy working mother and longs for his old friends. What he has is next door’s nosy triplet girls (April, May and June – tall with glittery hairclips and a love of investigative journalism).
But Stuart is soon on the trail of a mysterious ancestor and an even stranger mythical magic workshop and must work through a series of puzzles and clues – to find the truth, and of course, discover the workshop before the baddie gets there first.
Uncovering an old family mystery is glorious fun. (I know I am a pushover for mystery stories and this one has magical clues, photographic clues and safe-cracking). Fantastic!
With genuine humour and a pacy plot it’s an absolutely cracking read for both boys and girls aged 8+, but a secret pleasure for parents too – perfect family reading. If only they would bring it out as an audio book it would be in our car like a shot for summer holiday travel.
It’s out now in a gorgeous little gift hardback size. It looks lovely, even down to all the line drawings.
'Small Change for Stuart' is on the longlist for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award (judged by fellow professionals). I am always heartened to see not only a debut children’s author up for a big award – but a book that is also written for younger children.
But the best news of all is that apparently the author, Lissa Evans, is already working on a sequel.

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