"The Amber Cat" by Hilary McKay
I have just finished my first book for the Young Readers Challenge. I chose "The Amber Cat" by Hilary McKay. My copy was obtained from a public library sale and still had the dust jacket which stated that the age group it was suitable for was 9 -12. I would have to say that I think it would be better enjoyed by the older of that group.
The book takes place in contemporary England and is a story within a story. The primary story is that of a women raising her son alone after the death of her husband. She and the son live in a large semi-detached house, the other half which is occupied by her husbands best friend and his family. The primary story is complete on its own. The secondary story takes the form of flashbacks but not just momentary flashbacks for the sake of clarification or plot progression, but rather a complete story on its own.
Both stories contain elements of mystery, ghosts, human fraility and understanding. Both stories are good works alone but the way the author blends them is very good. It would hold a child's interest, I think, but the child would have to read carefully in order to grasp the nuances throughout the book, therefore, I think it would be more suitable for an older reader.
My favorite character was Sun Dance -- he seemed to be an old soul. I could envision Kevin Corcoran (Moochi of Walt Disney fame) playing this role.
I won't give away the plot. It is simple and obvious to an adult but the way the web was woven was still charming and interesting.