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Characters in silhouette. One catches an orange from a tree; the other is doing a headstand. Various animals & a jar of bugs.

by Jane Elson


“In the beginning our family was just me and Mum, then it became me, Mum, demon drink and my animal family.

My name is Nell Hobs and this is my story."


Nell collects strays, all manner of creepy crawly strays, from tortoises to bugs; she prides herself on being “the only naturalist on the Beckham Estate.” And, she’s even up for the Borough Nature Prize at school. But, closer to home, life is often challenging. Her dad has gone. Her mum is doing battle with the ‘demon drink’. Looking after her mum is hard. Looking after her self is harder. And, some of her classmates can spot the neglect a mile off… When things get especially stressful, Nell decompresses by standing on her head! But what Nell really wants is to find her dad because surely, surely, he can fix everything? And so, she sets out on a mission to bring a whole lot of attention down on herself in the hope he’ll hear about it…with more than a little help from her namesake and adopted ‘honorary’ ancestor, Nell Gwyn.


A beautifully written story which deals with broken families, young carers and neglect with complete tenderness, respect, understanding and, often, humour. Secondary characters include a team of adults and young people who look out for Nell and, who, in the end, stage an intervention. They include neighbour Aunty Lou (who is British Jamaican), shop owners -The Patels- who make sure Nell has a packed lunch for school, teacher and historical re-enactment geek Mr Samuels and Nell’s wonderfully eccentric, compassionate bestie, Michael (never without a dashing outfit). The tower block, Camden estate, setting is refreshing- and it’s fabulous to see working class hero, Nell Gwyn, taking a star turn. But, above all, it is Nell who stays with you: by turns painfully discerning and naïve, wise and reckless, mature and desperately in need of a childhood. A truly memorable hero. Age 9-12, Paperback 314pp


Themes: Diverse Families


SKU: 3325
£6.99 Regular Price
£6.29Sale Price
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