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by Anne Fine

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 2006
ISBN: 0-374-32481-6
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

While Clarrie and Will’s father is in Australia trying to earn enough to send for the family and their mother is in prison in Ireland, wrongly accused of stealing a basket of food, they are in the care of their uncle Len, who is drinking and gambling away the money he earns as a ventriloquist. Will improves Uncle Len’s act by becoming the “brother” of dummy Frozen Billy, and they are a huge hit. But Clarrie has always feared the dummy and sees Will becoming less like a child and as frozen as the wooden puppet. With a great deal of patience, ingenuity and some timely help, plucky Clarrie saves the day, all wrongs are righted and there is a satisfying ending to the drama. Fine weaves an inventive tale set in Edwardian London with characters who fit the setting perfectly and with just enough darkness to keep the proceedings from too much sweetness and treacle. McBain’s black-and-white line drawings are just right. Jolly good. (Fiction. 8-12)