Children’s books set in boarding schools have such an enduring appeal. For adults, they are a nostalgic look back at their own school days, friendships made, friendships lost, the fun, the scrapes, the tears. I didn’t get to go to boarding school. Instead, I went to a HUGE comprehensive school, a tired-looking ‘community college’ made from brick and portacabins. It was very rough around the edges. If you kept your head down, worked hard and stayed out of trouble you could do quite well. For some it was more a question of survival and developing strategies to get by. My reading material at the time included the Malory Towers and St Clares series by Enid Blyton and I remember being transported to a completely different world – boarding school – and LOVING every second.
Children, of course, are living the whole school thing right now. It is a huge part of their lives and which is why they love reading ‘school genre’ books. It is what they know and probably what they would write themselves. They can follow the characters in the stories as they make friends and mistakes along the way (just as they do). They can follow them as they work out that popular doesn’t always mean nice and sort the true friends from the not-so-true friends. And they can share in the fun of the adventures, the tricks played and, of course, the midnight feasts.
The Witch at Turlingham Academy by Ellie Boswell: out on 1st March and bringing boarding school fun and witchy goings-on bang up to date
It’s not fair! Actually, it’s doubly not fair as far as Sophie is concerned. For starters, she is the only day girl at Turlingham Academy and so misses out on all the late night gossip in the dorms and the midnight feasts. And just to make matters worse, Sophie’s mum is the Headmistress, no less.
It’s the start of a new term at Turlingham Academy and all Sophie’s friends are arriving back after the long summer break. Hugs and greetings are exchanged, stories told of long and boring flights from Los Angeles and holiday snaps swapped on mobile phones. This is boarding school 21st century style!
However, if Sophie thinks it is going to be a normal term at Turlingham Academy, she couldn’t be more wrong. Strange things start happening almost at once – the ancient but broken lighthouse lantern that towers over the school suddenly starts blazing away for the first time in fifty years; Sophie discovers a gift intended for her but posted five years earlier hidden in a drawer in her Mum’s office; and a new girl, Katy, joins the school. Katy starts to bewitch all of Sophie’s friends and is then found conducting strange experiments in the science labs. She confesses to Sophie that she is, in fact, a witch-hunter and is looking for a witch at the school who is getting stronger by the day. Sophie agrees to help Katy find the witch but ends up making a discovey that is both startling and life-changing. One thing’s for sure, “life at Turlingham Academy was never going to be the same again.”
My nine year old daughter read and loved this book – the schoolgirl chatter, the mischief and the innocent fun. This book is great for that age group (8-12 yrs) who are starting to leave behind little girl fun and are looking forward to a little more independence, a little more responsibility and lots of girly chat. The Witch at Turlingham Academy succeeds in introducing these ideas in a gentle and fun way.
The Witch at Turlingham Academy is the first of a series of witchy adventures written by Ellie Boswell and published by Atom and I know for a fact my daughter is going to be very excited to get her hands on the next one and the one after that and the one after that….