Monday 19 September 2022

Mini Reviews | Elsewhere Girls & The Secret in the Tower

Cat has recently started at a new school on a sports scholarship, and she’s feeling the pressure of early morning training sessions and the need for total commitment. Fanny loves to swim and she lives for racing, but family chores and low expectations for girls make it very hard for her to fit in even the occasional training session.

Cat and Fanny have never met. They both live in the same Sydney suburb, but in different worlds, or at least different times: Cat in current-day Sydney, and Fanny in 1908. But one day, time slips and they swap places.

As each girl lives the other’s life, with all the challenges and confusion it presents, she comes to appreciate and understand herself and the role of swimming in her own life.


Elsewhere Girls by Emily Gale & Nova Weetman was a super quick read, following two girls in different era's who find themselves in each others bodies with the help of a magical stopwatch. I did enjoy this book, like I said it was really fast paced and was an interesting take on the Freaky Friday body swapping trope. 

I definitely enjoyed reading from Cat's perspective the most as she's stuck in Fanny's body in 1908 but the cultural differences made for amusing reading in both perspectives. The two girls trying to figure out the language, chores and ensuring their families don't get suspicious was very entertaining. I also really liked the message this book portrays, highlighting how different life was for young girls 100 years ago. Fanny dreams of going to the Olympics to swim but can't because she's a girl but seeing how things are in Cat's time gives her the motivation to keep following her dream. Likewise, Cat is struggling with her own swimming but an incident in the past gives her a new outlook. 

I did find it a little simplistic at times as well as not feeling overly connected to the characters but I think younger readers will get a lot more out of it. 

1485. Richard III is King of England. Henry Tudor’s invasion looms.

Jack Broom thinks that war and politics have nothing to do with him. He is a simple apothecary’s boy dreaming of becoming a surgeon – until soldiers mistake him for a boy of noble birth.

Narrowly avoiding being dragged to the Tower of London, Jack sets out on a perilous mission to find out who he truly is. With the help of his new friend Alice, he uncovers conspiracies, treason, and the deadly lengths people will go to for power.


Another historical middle grade that I read recently was The Secret in the Tower by Andrew Beattie. I've always been interested in the mystery of The Princes in the Tower AKA the disappearance of Edward and Richard, and the author takes this part of history and creates an exhilarating adventure.  

Jack Broom is a simple apothecary's assistant but through a case of mistaken identity, he finds himself embroiled in a war between kings and by teaming up with a new friend, he sets out to discover his true identity. 

Beattie does a terrific job of transporting the reader back to medieval London, the descriptions are vivid and the real life history is well developed. Jack is an extremely courageous and capable character for someone so young, he really has that hero energy. I also loved Alice, her quick thinking and resourcefulness really came in handy. I love when middle grades delve deeper into parts of history that younger readers might not have been introduced to yet and this is an excellent story to prompt further research into this area of English history. Overall, an exciting, high-stakes mystery full of twists and action that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

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