Another Twist in the Tale by Catherine Bruton

Another Twist in the Tale – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: superbly constructed, cracking, vivid & glowing.
Children’s book title: Another Twist in the Tale.
Children’s author: Catherine Bruton.
Genre: Middle grade fiction.
Published by: Nosy Crow.
ISBN: 9781788005999
Recommended for children aged: 9-12.
First published: Paperback November 2020.
This children’s book is ideal for: class reading in years 6 & 7.

Another Twist in the Tale by Catherine Bruton

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Our review:

I’ve always loved Dickens, even when the received critical wisdom tended to downplay his worth and importance. At University I once wrote an essay on Bleak House in which I said, ‘Dickens can even make the buildings he describes fizz with an anthropomorphic energy.’ I was so pleased with that sentence! So was my tutor, also a Dickens fan. He liked it so much that ten years later he nicked it and put it into a book he’d written on the great man. I mentioned this story years afterwards to another academic chum and he stole it as well!

Catherine Bruton obviously loves Dickens too. She has based her novel on one of his best-loved and best-known creations, Oliver Twist. She imagines that Oliver had a twin sister, Twill, abandoned soon after her birth and found by Baggage Jones, a young girl surviving as well as she can in smoky maelstrom of early Victorian London.

Following Dickens would be a hard task for any writer. I would think that Catherine Bruton knew at an early stage that she would have to juggle three big jobs; being an experienced teacher she is probably well used to this!

First, she would want to give her young readers a clear idea of how stressful and precarious day-to-day life was for ordinary people in the rapidly expanding urban sprawls being created up and down England. Things were especially bad for women and children. There was no Welfare State and very little effective legal protection from exploitation of all kinds. All Dickens’ novels feature children in danger.

She also wants to encourage a love of Dickens, and then, further, a hunger for more nutritious literature. Oliver Twist is the perfect start, and is probably remembered with affection by all lovers of his novels who then go on to the more mature later works.

Lastly, and most importantly, here is a superbly constructed story which moves along at a cracking pace. Characters from the original (including The Artful Dodger, Fagin, Mr Brownlow) live and interact with the eccentric, vivid, glowing beings which have skipped and danced onto the page from Catherine Bruton’s imagination.

Another Twist in the Tale is the School Reading List’s November 2020 book of the month.

If you like Another Twist in the Tale you might also like: The Pearl in the Ice by Cathryn Constable, The Pear Affair by Judith Eagle, Lori and Max and the Book Thieves by Catherine O’Flynn, and our collection of recommended books for year 6, and books for year 7.

Browse more books for KS2 or books for KS3?

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About Laurence Inman

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Laurence is an actor, poet, short-story writer, playwright, screenwriter, cartoonist, public speaker, retired lecturer, and former English teacher. IMDb | Linkedin | Reviews by Laurence Inman