Goggle-eyes ISBN: 9780140340716
Published by Puffin, 1999
Kitty is a wonderful storyteller, so when Helly comes to school in a miserable state, their teacher sends Kitty to help. The problem is that Helly's mum has begun seeing a man Helly can't stand, and as Kitty has had exactly the same experience, all her story-telling powers are brought into play to provide comfort. The adventures of Kitty, her sister Jude, her mother and the erstwhile potential stepfather, Gerald Faulkner (known as Goggle-eyes), are by turn hilarious, moving, and very true to life. Gerald is precise, conformist, right wing, and anti-CND, and the family he is considering taking on is almost the exact antithesis. CND marches and rallies are bread of life to them, and there is a wonderfully funny section when Gerald joins them on a rally to a submarine base, only to be complete odd-man-out. But Gerald is also sensible and solid and reliable, and Kitty comes to see that this is a side of him that her excitable mum needs. As a side issue, the whole idea of anti-nuclear demonstrations and green issues are given a balanced and intelligent airing as both sides argue their reasons. When mum finally blows up after she has been arrested at a demo and Gerald tells her she is irresponsible, he leaves quietly, without a fuss, and in the ensuing weeks it is Kitty and Jude who feel the loss. Reliable Gerald keeps in touch in small ways, and when mum's case comes up in court, he is there to support her. There is no wedding at the end of the story, but Kitty tells Helly she honestly wouldn't mind. A well-deserved prizewinner of both Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.