David Fickling Books (10+)
Orphaned Mary lives at Thornhill, Institute for Children where she is cruelly bullied by the other girls. Ella is irresistibly drawn to the big old house that she can see from her bedroom window. Surrounded by overgrown gardens, barbed wire fences and 'keep out' signs, it looks derelict. But when Ella spots Mary in the grounds a powerful friendship develops between the two lonely girls. This chilling story of the need to belong and a desire for revenge is cleverly told through the combination of Mary’s diary entries and full page monochrome illustrations.
Adept use of illustration drives the narrative in this remarkable piece of pictorial storytelling. The illustrations have a cinematic quality that integrates perfectly with the text, creating a powerful, atmospheric novel. The strong black and white sequential illustrations skilfully emphasise the darkness of the story, creating a sense of menace, loneliness and despair. Bold, harsh lines set the scene and the pictures are able to tell the story without the use of text in many places. Dark and heavy production values provide an innovative and fully immersive reading experience that oozes suspense from the very start.
Pam Smy studied Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University, going on to complete the MA Children's Book Illustration in 2004. She combines her role as lecturer in illustration with illustrating fiction.