The Clifftoppers is a gorgeous tale in the vein of classic Adventure stories. I had a heady hit of nostalgia reading this, it felt like coming home to the stories of my childhood that I adored and I’m so glad to have these kind of stories for my daughters to e.
This is perfect Easter Holidays reading as it takes place over the same holidays with depictions of bluebells, cherry Blossom and Easter Egg hunts.
Also I found it very fun that Fleur cheekily gives a nod to the Devon/Cornwall cream-tea battle as the cousins enjoy hot scone with clotted cream and jam a few times through the book but which way do they choose?
Which way do you have your cream tea?
A group of cousins from diverse backgrounds are brought together when they spend time at their grandparents in the countryside and are given the wild freedom of children in times gone past- of course the type of children whom in books uncover shady deals and devious plans!
In The Arrowhead Moor Adventure the children are planning to spend a day cycling around including a visit to Arrowhead Moor House when they get suspicious about a tricky looking lady who nearly ran them over and is having dodgy conversations in phone boxes and trying to leave a big holdall in secret places.
With Stately Homes and gardens, Standing Stone circles, Missing sheep, Heists, forest jellyfish and Bear Houses this bike ride heats up to a fantastic adventure for the children.
‘Steam rose from the freshly washed fields and Ava felt wonderfully free as she did every time they were allowed to come here.’
There are flavours of a modern day Famous Five with a dash of the Goonies especially overhearing plans in a rundown pub and hiding in cobwebby underground tunnels.
It has the storytelling wondercraft of Fleur Hitchcock with all the warmth, wonder and glorious picnics of a Blyton adventure but without the rampant elitism, sexism and racism of as these are a group of modern children, whose parents haven’t packed them off to relatives so they can go on a jolly but because they have to work and childcare is expensive. Fleur takes a beloved concept of childhood adventures arisen out of freedom during holidays and brings it smack up to date and relevant to today’s children saying YOU can have adventures too.
They aren’t the boarding school privileged children of The Famous Five, they are regular children, Aiden lives in London, Ava and Josh from Birmingham and Chloe is the only one who has a garden. Ava and Josh are mixed race with a Afro-Caribbean heritage and the girls take just as much an equal and active role in the adventure as the boys do, Chloe is just as sporty as Josh on their bikes and Ava is thoughtful but determined and brave too.
The writing is excellent for the mid to upper end of early chapter books and lower middle grade with short snappy chapters and a voice that fits the age group beautifully as the narrative flits between the cousins where there is something to appeal to every reader and to flavour the choices and actions they take.
Josh is exuberant sometimes catastrophically and sometimes brilliantly so in the way that 8 year old boys can be. He is vibrating with boisterous enthusiasm and vigour.
His sister Ava is cautious and thoughtful and usually sensible but the different setting and enthusiasm of the others encourages her to take out of character risks, some dangerous and some just different.
Aiden is cerebral and sensible, but is stronger than he may think, a good runner and has amazing mental and emotional resilience for someone his age.
Chloe is courageous and kind and puts on a brave face with her cousins but lacks the confidence in herself such as her ability to remember, or for choosing inappropriate shoes for a day of cycling!
I’m thoroughly invested in this series and am so looking forward to reading this with Littlefae in time I’ve read it twice in a row and made reading notes and extraction questions for the future! I’m so excited that there are currently 2 future books planned (and I hope for more!!) I would recommend children who enjoyed Pamela Butchart’s Secret Seven reboots would love these too.
Clifftoppers: The Arrowhead Moor Adventure by Fleur Hitchcock is published by Nosy Crow and available online and from bookstores.