It was with mixed emotions that I started to read the fourth and final book in the Storey Street series from Phil Earle and Sara Ogilvie. I absolutely adored the first book, ‘Demolition Dad’ it featured in My Top 10 MG Reads of 2015 and subsequently raved about both ‘Superhero Street’ and ‘The War Next Door’ how could ‘Scaredy Cat, Scaredy Cat’ live up to my incredibly high expectations? Well let me reassure you, it most certainly did. Phil has an incredible talent for finding stories wherever he goes, Storey Street on the surface seems like an ordinary unassuming place but he introduces us to people who underneath their outside persona have a whole realm of hidden depths, that we get to discover as the individual stories unravel. In ‘Scaredy Cat, Scaredy Cat,’ Kay Catt is the most nervous and anxious girl that you could ever hope to met, she is so scared, even her own reflection when caught unexpectedly fills her with fears. But when a mysterious old man is spotted on Storey Street, an unlikely friendship forms and little does Kay know that he will be a catalyst for change in her life. Slowly as Kay comes out of her shell, the only reason she can think that this change is possible is that the old man – who has a fondness for wearing a cloak and a pointy hat – is an actual real life wizard!
Hilarious and sometimes heart-breaking, Phil chooses like in ‘The War Next Door’ to take the usually one dimensional characters and allow us the reader to discover what has shaped them and made them the way they are. There is more to Kay than just a simple figure of fun and derision, something more complex lies within her. Kay is convinced by a grieving father that the world is a dangerous place, so much so that her very life is fraught with anxiety wherever she goes. We see the emotional turmoil that she goes through as she tries to obey her Dad’s ridiculously strict and somewhat impossible rules, with her desire to start to make changes in her life. The grief lays heavily on them both but the story is not one of sadness but one of hope and Phil deftly mixes humour and heart to highlight their struggles through the healing process. Again my favourite elements of the story are when the narrator is commenting on the story unfolding, it is this quiet observational humour which appeals to me the most. The mixed-up literary references to ‘Dumblewosit,’ ‘You -Know-What’ and ‘Lord of the Bing-Boys’, because the narrator never did read fantasy books properly put the biggest smile on my face. The glorious ending is more comforting and reassuring than an hot chocolate, fluffy blanket and a cat sat on your lap on a cold autumnal day.
Yet again this book is illustrated by the magnificent Sara Ogilvie who captures the hilarity, chaos and warmth of this story beautifully – with special shout out for the cat disco scene! I’m a huge fan of illustrations in books for older readers they allow the child to develop their imagination and stop them feeling overwhelmed by page after page of words. I’m extremely sad to see the end of the Storey Street stories but I know that they will live in the imaginations of the children in my school for a long time to come.
Thank you to Orion books for sending my a copy of this hilarious book, ‘Scaredy Cat, Scaredy Cat’ is available to buy now online or in any good bookshop.