“ Genre: Fiction / Author: Dennis Hamley / Paperback / 64 Pages / Book is published 2008-09-26 by Evans Brothers Ltd „
The Sharp Shades series of books are clever little versions of longer short stories (the regular Shades collection), designed at enticing young readers to pick up a book more often. This particular one, Dennis Hamley's Watch Over Her, has a bit of a supernatural theme to it, as an old lady is protected by 'children' who don't actually seem to exist.
The story sees a couple of conmen who have heard that an old lady, Mrs Cattermole, is hoarding some kind of treasure. They sneak their way in pretending to be from the water board without much of a fuss, and then, later that night, their plans to take the 'treasure' doesn't go quite as planned......
The trick behind this little story is in what we don't get told, at least, not straight away. Mrs Cattermole is protected by children, apparently quite a few of them, that only she can see. She doesn't quite understand how no one else can see them, and is a little confused as to their existence herself. It's a cleverly written story, if a little strange, and there are a couple of moments which stretch to a bit of a horror feel to them. The supernatural element comes into play about halfway in.
Halfway, though, isn't very long at all. The book is a mere 62 pages long, with the actual story not starting until page 9, and the occasional full page illustration reducing the number even more. What's more, the words and lines are very spread out, and I imagine if you were to put these words in a regular book with smaller print and regular lines spacing, you'd probably only have 20 or so pages. This is no criticism, but it does mean that the story rather glosses over things somewhat. This is, no doubt, the intention, as the idea is to appeal to younger, less confident readers.
The simplistic nature and the fact that it is reduced from its original length stunts the ability to get any kind of feel for author Dennis Hamley's style of flow, as we have no real way of knowing what has been taken out or abridged. I did find the story interesting, although searching for hidden meaning is a bit pointless. The end of the story does explain things quite well, and it does show that one person's rubbish is another person's treasure, and how personal memories and items are far more important than the more material things in life that we often see.
If you're unsure of reading or want to look for some really easy reads, then the Sharp Shades is a good series to go for. Watch Over Me is a decent one in the series, with an intriguing tale that is very easy to get into. You don't need to fully focus as there are no long and descriptive elements. The story is told in a bare bones style, and this allows it to whizz along.
Watch Over Her is available for well under £5 on amazon.co.uk at the moment. These books do occasionally retail for a bit less, but it naturally depends on availability. Check local libraries as well, as they often have these series of books, as well as the Quick Reads series. Watch Over Her is a decent story, but don't expect it to give you a deep and involving storyline if you're an established reader.