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Monday, March 14, 2011

Enchanting Angel Creek

I've just finished reading Victorian author Sally Rippin's enchanting Angel Creek.

It was such a fresh, original idea I found myself doing a double-take as I walked past the rain-swollen creek near my home recently, eyes searching the waters for any errant angels that might be stuck in the swirling waters, wings waterlogged and wedged between rocks.

Angel Creek is the story of Jelly (short for Angelica) and her cousins Gino and Pik, who happen upon a half-drowned baby angel in the Merri Creek near her home one Christmas.

But this angel is no chubby cherub with a harp, but a gangly, bird-like creature that clings to Jelly with a fierceness and favouritism that inspires jealously and rivalry among the children.

It's a mystery, certainly, about where and how the angel came to be in the creek, but it's also a story about growing up, about family and, above all, about change.

The children save the angel from drowning in the creek, but in doing so they're faced with the even greater responsibility of caring for it, nursing it back to health and hiding it from the neighbourhood bullies.

Rippin does a wonderful job of jumping into the shoes of a young tween on the cusp of womanhood and high school, uprooted from friends and her old school, and experiencing all the self-doubt and dawning realisations that come with puberty.

For me Angel Creek also recalled summers past when Australian children really could play down at the creek without fear and make all kinds of wondrous discoveries - but I never ever found an angel. Maybe I should start looking a little harder...

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