My book review of 'How to be Brave' by Daisy May Johnson

by Daisy May Johnson
Recommended age: 9+
How to be Brave
by Daisy May Johnson

This story combines an old fashioned, traditional setting of a girls' boarding school and scientific exploration, with modern wit, independence and resourcefulness. It is a lovely debut from Daisy May Johnson, a librarian and blogger in children's literature. 

Calla's mum is preoccupied with her lifelong passion - to discover the natural habitat of a rare, even extinct, duck. She'll leave the house in her slippers, and regularly forgets mealtimes. Much as she loves her daughter, when she learns of a sighting of the bird, she arranges for Calla to go to boarding school while she travels to the Amazon rainforest.

It's not an ideal outcome for Calla, but she soon finds that not only does she have adventures of her own in her new school, but she must also pursue the clues to locate her mother to free her from kidnappers! 

This is a quirky and feisty story of independent spirit and a determined, resourceful 'can do' attitude. And there are footnotes! (I'm not a fan of footnotes as a rule, but it's a device used by the knowing narrator, drawing us into the story, sharing jokes and observations).

A clever, enjoyable, exuberant read, and there is due to be a sequel sometime soon, too.

Review date: June 2021
Publication date: 1st July 2021