Title: The Bellamy Bird
Author: Clare Havens
Opening line: Nina Bellamy carried the heavily laden laundry basket down the narrow stairs.
Blurb: Almbury Manor is the ancestral home of the Bellamy family who own a priceless heirloom, a golden statue known as the Bellamy Bird, a gift from an Indian Prince – solid gold and encrusted with precious stones, the Bird is quite priceless. On Midsummer’s Eve in 1931 the statue is stolen, causing the downfall of the Bellamy family and the loss of Almbury Manor. Modern day siblings, Freddie and Jamie, descendants of the Bellamy family, go back in time to try to prevent the robbery and secure their family’s future with the help of some mischievous schoolboys, a group of sailing-mad children and boat called Lapwing.
My Thoughts: I first heard about THE BELLAMY BIRD when a group of online buddies were discussing it avidly – words being used to describe it such as Famous Five, Hercule Poirot and the Swallows and the Amazons were being bandied about in very positive ways. When author Clare Havens offered the book for a review I jumped at the chance. The story opens in contemporary times where Nina and Tom Bellamy along with their two children Freddie and Jamie all live in London in a tall thin house with many staircases. The family are struggling financially and when Tom comes home to say he is going to be laid off the conversation turns to cost cutting. Great-grandma Violet also lives with them and this night she tells them how the family fortune had been lost in 1931 when the Bellamy Bird was stolen. The same night some family jewels belonging to a guest was also stolen. The next morning they all wake up and find themselves in 1931 – not together but all in and around Almbury Manor. They each know who they are and they recognise each other. They also all recognise Great-grandma Violet, only she is now 8 years old. The family realises they have a chance to stop the theft and change the family fortunes. What follows is a fun adventure with children exploring, sailing and camping while playing make-believe (pretending to be pirates) instead of video’s, then the grown-ups join in and traps are laid, sleuthing happens and secrets searched for, culminating in an edge of the seat sail in a storm.
Such a fast paced and fun read that certainly brought back memories of my own childhood play in the 60s and some of my favourite books. When my friends and I went for walks they were NEVER just walks – they were adventures. We’d agree on some imaginary foe be they Pirates, Gypsies, Indians, Kidnappers or bank robbers and off we’d go. I’m not sure kids do this anymore. Shame really. But at least they have access to books like THE BELLAMY BIRD to show them the way of they want to. The mystery of who stole what, why and how lasted until the very last page – and the big reveal with all the suspects gathered in one spot. There were twists and turns, scuffles and accusations but all in all I really recommend this book. While aimed at the middle school level – I think anyone would enjoy the story.
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B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.
With thanks to the author for my copy to read and review