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Review: Double Trouble by Judi Curtin

Judi Curtin is one of Ireland's most popular writers for children, and after reading her new book, Double Trouble, it's not hard to see why.

The second title in the clever Friends Forever time travel series sees the intrepid heroine, Lauren transported back to ancient Rome, along with her best friend Tilly and the magical cat, Saturn.

From the moment they touch Roman soil the girls are in peril, kidnapped by slave traders and forced to work on an onion farm, before being rescued by a kind Roman girl called Prima.

The scenes at Prima's house (where the girls are also officially slaves, but are treated more like cherished pets for Prima to play with) are packed full of child-friendly authentic detail -- from eating deep friend dormouse and flamingo's tongue, to the sponges on a stick (don't ask), and Curtin clearly did her research.

She also includes a smattering of Latin that readers will have great fun decoding: mater, canis, equus.

The drama intensifies when, after several tremors the girls realise that they are in Pompeii just before Vesuvius erupted. But these are no average girls, and the pair soon engineer a clever plan to save Prima's family and themselves.

This is such a charming read, Lauren and Tilly are perfectly drawn and their occasional tiffs are highly realistic.

Curtin has a delightfully light touch, she writes with deceptive simplicity, and it's refreshing to come across a story that you can happily give to a bright seven or eight year old who is longing to read a 'proper' book.

It's also a sneaky way of getting a little history into your offspring to boot. A winner for both parents and young readers alike.

Sarah Webb

Sarah Webb's latest book for age 10+ is Ask Amy Green: Love and Other Drama-ramas

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