The Distance Enchanted is the only book by Mary Gervaise I have read and I understand that it is atypical of her output. I think I must have stumbled across it in a charity shop or a second-hand bookshop. Certainly the copy I had until very recently was what the pros describe as a reading copy. Basically it was falling apart! So my best guess is that I didn’t pay very much for it. But it’s something I’m very glad to have found. Glad enough, in fact, to have invested in a better copy complete with dustwrapper! Breeze (really Bridget), Felicity and Gay are just about to leave school and go their separate ways. Over a final tea they discuss their plans and agree to meet in the same place two years hence. The book is the story of what happens in between – and it’s a strange mixture of unlikely fairytale and hard-hitting realism.

Chris Riddell delights and amuses with Ottoline at Sea. In this instalment of his clever series Ottoline is devastated when her friend and housemate Mr Munroe disappears. Eventually, with the help of the bear, she puts together the clues and realises where her friend has gone: back home to Norway to search for Quite Big Foot. Ottoline and the bear set off after him, meeting many interesting people on their journey. Chris Riddell’s absurd story and brilliant annotated illustrations are a constant joy. With its combination of oblique references and obvious humour this is something I go back to often to cheer myself up.

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