Books by Helen Cresswell

THE WATCHERS by Helen Cresswell
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

Two runaways from a gloomy English children's home—11-year- old Katy and 9-year-old Josh—hide out at the Alton Towers amusement park. But they discover they're not alone: Homeless Ollie and his vicious leader, the ``King,'' intimidate the kids into stealing food for them. And then there's the mysterious mute bag lady, who can turn invisible and an old blind man who plays his magic harp at night in a replica of Stonehenge. It turns out that the blind man, Quantum, is the real King of a magical dimension of Alton; the bag lady, Old Mother Alton, guides orphans and runaways to find a home in Alton; and the homeless King is really the Enemy, who's trying to destroy it all. Only Josh and Katy can trick the Enemy into going on a ride called the Black Hole, which will suck him into eternal limbo. Meanwhile, a manhunt ensues for the runaways, which stirs both Katy's clinically depressed mother and Josh's negligent mom to realize that they want their kids back. (Josh and Katy eventually choose to go home rather than live forever in Alton.) Cresswell (Posy Bates, Again!, p. 554, etc.) writes with suspense, builds her outlandish plot craftily, and makes Josh and Katy totally convincing. An engrossing, surprisingly moving, and original novel. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
POSY BATES, AGAIN! by Helen Cresswell
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 1994

In a second, funnier, appearance, the heroine of Meet Posy Bates (1991) is still as irrepressible as King-Smith's Sophie, with the difference that, where Sophie's determination leads to success, Posy's schemes (despite blameless intentions) land her in hot water. Posy is hoping to keep the stray dog (Buggins) she found earlier; to that end, she tries to prove him useful (e.g., by engineering the baby's disappearance so that Buggins can ``find'' him) and is on her best behavior (though the laundry she washes comes out green). Cresswell is in full comic stride here; though heedless, Posy is clever and warmhearted (she's still concerned about the homeless woman in her neighborhood), while wittily on-target characterizations—especially of the girl and her rather unsympathetic mother Daff—give the absurd shenanigans a secure foundation in genuine human nature. A mid-incident conclusion signifies more to come; it will be welcome. (Fiction. 5-10)on in genuine human nature. A mid-incident conclusion signifies more to come; it will be welcome. (Fiction. 5-10) Read full book review >
CLASSIC FAIRY TALES by Helen Cresswell
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1994

In well-crafted retellings, Cresswell streamlines nine traditional favorites, omitting some repetitions (Cinderella goes to just one ball), restructuring to create different storytelling cadences (Goldilocks eats the porridge after the chair breaks), and toning down the violence (the Frog Prince isn't thrown at the wall; the wolf eats neither Grandmother nor Red Riding Hood, though he's killed with an arrow). Commendably, she treats both the stories and the sensibilities of little listeners without condescension. Each tale is given a full-page illustration plus appealingly scattered decorative spots (blossoms, a bag of gold, Snow-white and Rose-red's bear cuddled up with a lamb, Rapunzel's tower). Lawson's work with ornamental plates and figurines is apparent in the delicate precision of her paintings and the rather static and doll-like characters: Hansel and Gretel are too demure to elicit much sympathy. Still, the deft adaptations make good introductions to the familiar stories while the romantic art is sure to attract an adult seeking a gift book. (Folklore. 3-6) Read full book review >
MEET POSY BATES by Helen Cresswell
ANIMALS
Released: April 30, 1992

A disappointing early chapter book from a gifted humorist (the popular Bagthorpe books, etc). Posy, eight, yearns for a pet but makes do with ``creepy crawlies,'' like a pair of spiders she keeps in a jar and the fleas she hopes to find on a hedgehog she brings in from the garden. Her mother, preoccupied with baby Fred, wants none of them. There are some encounters with a hungry bag-lady before Posy throws a pet show that, as such, is a fiasco, but does bring her a stray dog that ``Mom'' says she may keep. Posy, imaginative and in need of attention, is drawn adroitly but from a rather adult point of view and in an ironic style that's as thoroughly British as the fabric of Posy's life (in which context ``Mom'' is ludicrous); many American readers Posy's age will find her story hard to follow, its events fairly predictable. Still, readers who enjoy King-Smith's more engaging Sophie's Snail (1989), with its similar theme and audience, might also warm to Posy. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 7-9) Read full book review >