Saturday, February 20, 2021

Bloom, by Nicola Skinner

Sorrel is very good at following rules.  So good, in fact, that she is a shoo-in for Headmaster Grittysnit's new contest for the most well-behaved student, the Grittysnit Star.  She was last year's Head of Year and regularly earns Sensible Child and School Rule Champion certificates. How hard can it be? But that was before plants started growing out of her head! 

It all starts when Sorrel finds a packet of Surprising Seeds, learns the sad history of her hamlet of Little Sterilis from the owner of the town's neglected plant nursery, and accidentally releases an ancient curse.  With the help of her scientifically-inclined (but non-conformist) friend Neena, they find the cause of the unusual blooms.

Meanwhile, Headmaster Grittysnit won't tolerate sprouting scalps and when the pates of the entire school starts to germinate, he believes it is time to take drastic measures.  As the guardian for the forces of obedience, conformity, and rules (such as guide all sensible students!) the solution is paving over these unruly plants.  Sorrel realizes that that will never work, but to convince the others, she has to break the rules, jeopardizing her chance of winning the Grittysnit Star!

A very British satire attacking conformity. The targets (stuffy school administrators and property developers) are not particularly formidable and the struggle is not particularly fierce, but the whimsical text makes for a brisk and entertaining read.  For fans of Lemony Snicket and The Willoughbys.

[Disclaimer:  I received an Advance Review Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.  The book is scheduled for release on March 16th, 2021.]

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