Friday 27 May 2022


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The Secrets of Cricket Karlsson by Kristina Sigunsdotter, illustrated by Ester Eriksson (translated from Swedish by Julia Marshall)   {Reviewed by STELLA}
Ever been eleven and lonely? Or wondered why your best friend is hanging out with the mean kids? Or wished your mother didn’t sigh so much? If you answer yes to any of these questions then you need Cricket Karlsson. Ever wanted to make art? Ride a horse in the moonlight? Ever been unable to get out of bed or unable to get someone you love out of bed? Then you need Cricket Karlsson. Cricket Karlson is eleven, has a ‘potato’ heart (which is currently mashed because her best friend Noa isn’t talking to her), is finding out about love, is visiting her aunt in the psych ward, loves to draw and doesn’t like the horse girls. And she has secrets — secrets that only a best friend, like Noa, knows! The Secrets of Cricket Karlsson from the pen of Kristina Sigunsdottir and the brush of Ester Eriksson is another standout from Gecko Press. I loved it, and it’s even better on the second reading. It has lists of not very Ugliest Words, absurd and unlikely Things Grandpa Says you Can Die From, unusual Psychiatric Illnesses I Don’t Want, and delightful Secrets I Have Only Told to Noa. Told with the keen observation of an eleven-year-old with all the concerns of childhood and changing circumstances, the words leap off the page with feistiness, humour and pathos. It lightly touches on worries and fears (climate change, mental health, sadness, regret) while embracing the best things about being that age when you’ll still a kid, but only just. Who hasn’t noticed the horse girls with their neighing and prancing, or squirmed when a boy (or a girl) is doe-eyed and you just don’t like him like that, or locked themselves in the bathroom (sometimes crying) to avoid being harassed? Cricket Karlsson finds out that life isn’t always what you expect, that loneliness passes, and that even an eleven-year-old can make a sad person happy. Black humour abounds and Cricket Karlsson is a star (with secrets and lists, a big heart and a little mischief, and her favourite food is cheese-on-cheese-in-cheese). I think I’ll pop to bed and read it again. 

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