The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen by Deb Abela. Random House Australia. Junior fiction, Australian. Paperback rrp $14.95.
Aurelie Bonhoffen is unlike any of the other kids at school; unlike any other kid you’ve ever known. She lives with her extended family - grandmother, uncles and parents – at an amusement park, Bonhoffen’s Seaside Pier. Everything about her life is remarkable, even before her discovery of the family secret.
She sleeps in a room above the ghost train and sometimes doubles as the back end of a cow. Aurelie spends a lot of time with her unusual uncles, Rolo and Rindolf, strange companions for a girl about to turn twelve. She doesn’t fit in at school and has no friends there. But that doesn’t worry her. Aurelie is strong, independent and capable of standing up to the playground bullies.
After Aurelie’s birthday, her world starts to change. The changes are both good and bad. First she learns the secret and it’s not an easy one to live with. She then makes a friend at school, the mayor’s son. She manages to antagonize the Principal more than ever before. But worst of all, her home is under threat. The mysterious Mr Cook wants to buy the pier and redevelop it.
Aurelie’s father says no but Mr Cook doesn’t accept that answer. With the Mayor’s help, he has ways and means of making things happen. Awful things. After the Mayor’s attempts to sabotage the amusement park fail, he turns his attention to his son’s new friend, Aurelie. With the family in danger of losing her, they finally agree to sell.
But Aurelie hasn’t given up. She has her new friends to support her fight. And then, there’s the remarkable secret.
Fans of the Max Remy series will not be disappointed. Here they will find fun, adventure and a little magic. Or is it just sleight of hand? This is a wonderful book and Abela herself is the real magician.