Sterling and the Canary

Sterling Thaxton was the best-looking boy in the school – popular, sporty and with no shortage of admirers. However, he has a problem. He has fallen madly in love with Lizzie Harris, the new girl in the class but she is impervious to his advances. She sets him tasks that challenge his lack of academic prowess and that he must fulfil before she will agree to go out with him. Sterling’s best friend, Doctor Edward Mackintosh, does her level best to help him in his plight, aided by a cute canary bird with special powers.

This is a charming novel dealing with thwarted teenage romance and the highs and lows of an unrequited crush. Andy Stanton, best known for his popular series of Mr Gum books, brings his zany sense of humour, his fondness for quirky names and his lightness of touch to this genuinely enjoyable book. With effortless ease, he captures the fun that can be shared between true friends and the frustrations when reality fails to match the dream. The line drawings by Ross Collins call to mind the kind of psychedelic drawings reminiscent of teenage girls’ comics from the seventies combined with a jaunty Manga-style spontaneity. The illustrations complement the tale, adding greatly to the humour of the story.

This is Stanton’s second Barrington Stoke title and it is warmly recommended for the tween reader. The publisher’s trademark use of a dyslexia friendly font and format ensures its instant appeal, in particular with reluctant readers. Matched with the upbeat story and a satisfying twist at the end, Stanton has written a feel-good, winning title.