Christmas holidays are about to be ruined for the three Alexander children when BOTH their parents have to work in to run up to Christmas Day and the kids are dumped in the country with Great-Aunt Poppy. 11 year old Ava, eldest of the siblings, is the only one of the three who has met Great-Aunt Poppy before. Ava warns 9 year old Nolan and 6 year old Charlotte that Great-Aunt Poppy lives in a spooky dilapidated house, full of cobwebs, scary paintings, and hundreds of unfriendly cats. Groppy, as Ava names Great-Aunt Poppy, smells of spices and cat litter, her face is covered with hairy moles, and she dresses like a witch. The children don’t expect they will survive a week in her house in the woods, not when they discover that everything is as awful as Ava told them.
After Groppy tells the hundreds of cats the children are not on the menu, and warns the children that it is definitely not safe to go outside a night, she takes them upstairs to their inter-connecting rooms. Before she leaves them to sleep, she gives them one final warning: Don’t go up the stairs. This make no sense for the children are already on the second floor of a two storey house. It seems just another one of Groppy’s eccentricities. Until Nolan meets a talking cat who directs him to the secret room where he finds a small cauldron containing a wishing potion. So naturally he makes a wish…
Is it wise to take the advice of a talking cat you’ve just met? Or make wishes when you stumble upon a magic potion? While the children try to grapple with consequences of doing so, they discover that Groppy has a problem of her own that needs help – something dangerous is loose in the woods that threatens them all. Can they unite to overcome this danger or will this really be the worst holiday ever?
This a fun and engaging read, that zips along at a nice pace. The plot is quite simple, which makes it perfect for younger readers, and it’s a magical and imaginative adventure. The three children are endearing, and I loved the fact that they were siblings, each quite different and totally loyal and protective of each other. I particularly identified with Nolan (being a picky eater myself, I totally empathised with his fear of starvation!), but Ava is a kind older sister and Charlotte a really sweet little one. I really like that Groppy appears scary, and the children must learn to value true worth and not judge by superficialities.
I found this story very entertaining and I think younger kids would love it. How could you not love a story with a talking cat?
9 out of 10 diamonds
Thanks to the author for giving me an ARC and I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.