Of all the children’s authors I collect, Dorita Fairlie Bruce is my favourite. In a large part I think it’s because she’s a Scot and so writes sensibly about my country and its people.  Whatever you might have read in children’s books of the twentieth century, we’re not all red-haired lasses from Glasgow or shy Highlanders!  Nancy Calls the Tune is the almost obligatory final book in a school story series where the heroine is now grown up and embarking on adult life.  For Nancy that means becoming a Church organist!  It’s not a perfect story and other people have pointed out that there are inaccuracies. But it is a story after all, not a factual account of life during the Second World War.  What it does have is a strong sense of community and wonderful camaraderie.  Being a small-town girl myself, I can relate to life in Easterbraes (almost certainly Blairgowrie in real life) and, to a daughter of the manse, the Church setting is extremely familiar and the characters completely believable.  And I like Angus – even though I’ve spent my adult life making sure not to get involved with divinity students or ministers…

My personal favourite of Elizabeth Laird’s many wonderful books is probably still The Garbage King (although I could be swayed in favour of her recent book Welcome to Nowhere, set in a refugee camp…).  It’s one of her many books to have been nominated for the Carnegie Medal, having been shortlisted a few years ago.  Set in Ethiopia, it tells the story of two boys from very different backgrounds who find themselves living on the streets.  It’s powerful and moving and heart-breaking and life-enhancing – and it stayed with me long after I’d finished reading.  One of its major strengths, something it shares with many of Liz’s books, is that it doesn’t have an unrealistically happy-ever-after ending but it does have hope.

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