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31st January 2003

When Rosie Met Anneka by Steve WilsonWhen Rosie Met Anneka

Writing children's fiction involves far greater skills than most authors possess. When I see the banal tosh presented by some publishers I am forced to assume that that either they are paid a great deal of money by their wannabe authors, or that they, the publishers, are held in thrall by Famous Names. Why else should an actress's or a politician's simplistic tales should be so highly regarded by kids whose world actually deserves opening-up by the magic of a decent book? Surely it has nothing to do with the seduction of over-impressionable parents by the merit, literary or otherwise, of such gliterati? Perish the thought.

As many of us who visit have, or indeed have had, children, and as all of us love motorcycling, let me recommend without reservation the best book of its type I have read in decades. Steve Wilson is already an established author but in tackling children's fiction he has revealed himself to be in the forefront of this genre too. Wisely, he has restricted himself to fiction with its feet in fact -- Anneka his own BSA, Rosie his own daughter, and the prehistoric White Horse close by the high downlands where he lives and in whose history he is steeped.

The plot seems simple enough. Rosie finds in a ruined barn a decrepit old motorcycle. Inspired by the BSA tank badge, which she recollects seeing in an old photograph of her father as a young man, she tells him about it. At this point the book departs from most. Where almost all of our arts dominated publishers recoil in horror from fiction containing even a sniff of real hardware, this publisher has wisely given Steve a free hand. With great sensitivity he has weaved into Rose's awakening to the mysteries of her own culture just enough of the difficulties of the mechanics involved with the restoration of life into crafted hot metal to make the tale compellingly convincing.

Parallel to this runs Rosie's archaeologist father's heartache concerning his dual inability to discover the truth of the White Horse's origins and to earn sufficient money. By means I will not tell Rosie perceives the truth of the white horse, the revelation of which leads to an income for Dad and so on and so forth.

When Rosie Met Anneka is a brilliant infusion of stolid old Brummy technology with enough haunting threads of Celtic mythology to create a multi-layered tale of lore too powerful to dismiss as mere fancy. If you want a book written with the innocence of childhood that you will enjoy reading no less than will your pre-teen squib, don't miss it for Christmas.

You will love Jacinthe Betts' joyously naive illustrations too.

Dave Minton

When Rosie Met Anneka by Steve Wilson.

  • Published by Panther Publishing Ltd, ISBN 09535098 4 2, price 7.99
  • Phone 01865 767575, email
  • Buy direct from Panther Publishing via this link and a small commission will go towards the running costs.

    Buy a copy from Amazon for 7.99

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