By Author / Illustrator
Chicken House Ltd
Paperback / softback
An action-packed swashbuckling tale for readers aged 8 and up! While helping in Grandpa's shop, Bramble discovers a strange scarlet mask. A tingling in her fingers tells her to try it on, but when she does she can't take it off . . . And when she looks in the mirror, the face of a famous highwayman, Diamond Jack, stares back. It seems Bramble has been chosen for a mission. Time to stand and deliver - your magic or your life!
A thrilling highway-girl adventure with a magical twist from the brilliantly-named Anna Rainbow, author of Antigua de Fortune of the High Seas. A fun, feminist, all-action adventure for ages 8 and up. A deliciously familiar but wholly original mash-up of classic tales: shades of The Red Shoes, The Three Musketeers and Robin Hood.
Bramble and her sister, Lena, have recently lost their parents and now live with their grandfather, helping out in his shop, 'Mr Browning’s Emporium of Strange and Magical Things'. Left in charge, she and her best friend, Ernest, who lives next door with his mother at the dressmaker's shop, discover a hidden box in the forbidden shed at the bottom of the garden. Inside is a red highwayman's mask which Bram feels compelled to try on- and then can't take off. When her Grandfather is taken, Bram discovers that the mask transforms her into the famous highwayman, Diamond Jack, and she is thrust into a mission full of action, adventure and magic!
A riotous romp of a read, Diamond Jack: Your Magic or Your Life has much to recommend it! The story bounces along at a pleasing pace with plenty of action and much to discuss. Bram is a great character. Thrust into a role which she did not choose, she overcomes her fears and rises to the challenges thrown at her, proving she is capable and resilient. Ernest is a joy and their friendship is really well captured and believable. Humour is woven through the story - sure to appeal to any adults sharing the story as well as children. Mrs Kipling, for example, 'does make exceedingly good cakes'!
But the story also offers plenty do discuss. There are links to other stories like the Robin Hood legends which might be explored, research about real highwaymen and their exploits as well as considering how people 'mask' themselves sometimes, just as Bram adopted the persona of Diamond Jack when wearing the mask. Family secrets might also be a topic of conversation, considering why certain characters chose to act as they did and the consequences of these choices.
However, above all this magical story offers an action-packed adventure - with the potential of more to come!
320 pages / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+