It’s rare that I show a new book to my after-school book club and all 12 of them want to read it just from looking at the front cover. It’s even rarer that they all want to read it having explored the blurb. But that’s exactly what happened with Lorraine Gregory’s debut, Mold and the Poison Plot.
That hour exploring up to the end of the first chapter is one of the funniest book-club hours I have ever spent. And, over the course of the following week, I received 12 letters all begging to be the first to read the book after me…
Mold’s life didn’t get off to the best of starts: he was left at the dump, where no one but kind-hearted Aggy took pity on the peculiar-looking baby. He’s grown up with her as his ma, helping sniff out customers for her potions. Then, a tattooed Toff shows up at Aggy’s door, and the next thing Mold knows is that Aggy is arrested for poisoning King Godric. He’s the only one who can save her from the noose.
The smells waft from the page as Mold encounters new friends and vicious villains in this heart-stopping page-turner of an adventure through the fantasy realm of Pellegarno – from the rag market in the Dregs to the streets, sewers and castle in Westenburg, down river to swamps and bogs and back again.
Our unlikely hero proves that, from love, comes courage and inner strength. Celebrating characters’ strengths drawn from their differences, the power of love and friendship, and the need to build bridges to the future rather than keep burning them down from the past, Mold and the Poison Plot is as emotional as it is intelligent. It opens up the whole debate around diversity and tolerance for children – which is very much needed – all wrapped up in a stonking good story.
If you’d like to see what my pupils thought, you can see their reviews in TES.
And, I have to tell you, apart from being thoroughly lovely and a writer of wonderous things, Lorraine Gregory was inspirational when she Skyped us to talk Mold, writing and future projects. If you’d like your class to Skype with her, just follow this link.