Ellie Clements, The Wondrous Prune, Bloomsbury, August 2022, 320 pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781526638328
When Prune’s family is uprooted to move to their late grandparents’ old house, Prune finds it difficult to make friends at her new school and is targeted by a group of bullies. Her older brother, Jesse, is struggling too–he hates his new school and has remained friends with Bryce, a boy from his old school, who is a troublemaker. Jesse has even begun skipping school to see Bryce.
Shortly after starting school, Prune begins seeing colours all around her whenever she feels sad or scared. Then she discovers that she can bring her drawings to life, literally like a hot air balloon and a zoo in her backyard. She’s amazed to think that she could be a superhero, just like in the movies. But when her mama finds out about her powers, she forbids Prune from using them. Mama already has enough on her hands with Jesse. But Prune knows that Bryce is planning something illegal and bribing Jesse to help him. Prune doesn’t want her brother to get into trouble or cause an even bigger rift with her family so she confronts him and together they plan a way out their mess with the help of Prune’s wondrous superpower.
The first in a series by British author Ellie Clements, The Wondrous Prune is a story of family, new beginnings and standing up for yourself. It explores childhood fantasies of wish fulfilment and superhero abilities as well as childhood problems such as bullying and peer pressure. It is easy to be drawn into Prune’s world through her engaging voice and contemporary relatability.
This book would make a wonderful addition to any collection, but especially collections with an emphasis on diversity.
Reviewed by Pamela Ueckerman