To be published by Chicken House January 2018. ISBN 978191140043 (pbk)
A deceptively slight novel with a sizeable heart.
Jess is allergic to the sun. Her physical movements are limited (even a moment in indirect sun gives her a terrible blister), but her imagination is boundless. She writes stories, is home schooled, attends far too many hospital appointments and -unintentionally- worries her mum. Jess is a ‘normal’ twelve year old despite her abnormal allergy.
After one boring appointment, Jess inadvertantly ‘meets’ a boy in a coma. Knowing how stifling it can be to be stuck indoors, she writes stories to read aloud to him.
The one moment of physical freedom Jess has is occasional moon-lit walks. One night she visits the local playground. But at night time, there is another garden beyond the boundary hedges: an ice garden.
This is Jess’ own secret garden: the antithesis of the sun-filled, over-heated, busy daytime world she has to hide from.
But Jess is not alone in the ice garden. It is home to a mysterious ice boy. They explore the unusual ice garden, its other inhabitants and unique flora and fauna, all of which further fuels Jess’ imaginative stories for the boy in the coma.
What is the power of the ice garden? Where did the ice boy come from? Who is the boy in the coma? What does sunlight on skin feel like?
Despite being a short book, this is a story with a large emotional heart. It is a lovely mixture of real life and fantasy, imagination and ice. Echoes of The Secret Garden, What Katy Did and the long winter of Narnia are all there, but reimagined in a contemporary setting.
It is an engaging read for ages nine upwards. A good, economical debut novel. I shall be recommending it to customers once it’s published.