Elspeth Hart and the School for Show-offs by Sarah Forbes

cover61838-mediumHow did I get the book? Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Genre: Contemporary

Synopsis: Elspeth Hart and the School for Show-offs is the first adventure featuring the fabulous Elspeth Hart, a modern heroine with doodles on her Converse trainers and unstoppable determination.

Ever since her parents were tragically washed away in a flood, Elspeth Hart has been forced to live in the attic of the Pandora Pants School for Show-offs with her disgusting aunt, Miss Crabb. She spends her days helping out in the kitchen and dodging Tatiana Firensky, the most horrible show-off of them all. Her only friend is the awkward and shy Rory Snitter, who is inseparable from his pet lizard, Lazlo.

But when a knock on the head from a falling book brings back some of Elspeth’s memories from before the flood, she begins to suspect that Miss Crabb is hiding something. Elspeth hatches a daring escape plan, involving the high-profile Look at Us! Festival, a pair of smelly underpants and a top-secret Extra-Special Sticky Toffee Sauce.

200words (or less) review: Sarah Forbes debut sounded like a quick and fun read so I was happy to receive it for review.

Here’s what enjoyed: Elspeth is a likeable character, the story is easy to follow and the illustrations a lovely. Despite sleeping in the wardrobe and being there to clean for her ‘aunt’ Elspeth doesn’t just give in. She has a secret friend (with a pet lizard) and after remembering bits of her memory is determined to find out what actually happened.

The book’s audience is probably a little younger than I  normally read for, as such I don’t have a lot of comparison but the grown-up me did struggle with a few things. The characters on a whole are very one-dimensional and the Show-Off school premise doesn’t give credit to how much hard work and dedication goes into dance, acting, etc. The children are just all brushed as “show-offs” with lessons to match that mind-set. I didn’t appreciate it; I felt there could have been a better balance.

I read Elspeth Hart in one sitting and I think the intended audience will have fun with the ickyness of the cooking ingredients and just desserts at the end of the book.

Recommend it?

For the right audience, yes.

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