"The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley" By Martine Murray, is a funny, witty and at times moving book written through the eyes of a young Australian girl who loves to talk and is always interested in everything.
Her older brother Barnaby, who has run away but leaves poetic letters in the mail box, her friend Caramella who eats lots of biscuits, Kite the bird-person (not a cat/dog-person) and his friend Oscar, who wobbles all the time and even Stinky, all have a big part to play in this vivid story.
Cedar narrates the story in a casual, friendly and amusing way that makes you want to keep on reading. She says everything on her mind in easily understandable words and draws little pictures (even though she admits that she doesn't draw well) throughout the book's pages to show you what she is talking about.
The language is interesting, conversational and gives you a clear picture.
Throughout the book, Barnaby sends melodramatic letters poetically expressing his feelings. Cedar also brings up unusual comments and questions in the book which make you think.
The plot is believable as it is set in real life. It is easy to follow, yet lots of things are happening. It is quite hard to put down because you feel that she's talking to you about all the interesting things that she remembers from the past or are happening in the present. Another good thing about this book is that the characters are varied and seem real. You feel that you know them from the way they speak.
I think the book might have been trying to convey a message because it talks a bit about 'hippies' and the political views of 'greenies'. It is subtle though, and didn't intrude on my enjoyment of the story.
Unfortunately, the ending is abrupt and I would have liked to see more development of Barnaby's relationship with his family when he eventually returns.
This is a book which should be read by oneself, due to the 1st person style of writing.
I think that this book would be a wonderful present. It is a very good read. I would recommend this book to children of the age 11 - 14, though I think older readers might enjoy the humour and style just as much.
I would rate it 9/10.