A wintry animal tale with a historical twist, Frost sounded like a perfect kids read to snuggle up with now that it’s getting cold!
Book: Frost by Holly Webb
Read before: No
Publication date: 1st October 2020 (paperback)
Ownership: Review copy sent free of charge by Little Tiger Books. All opinions my own.
Frost is a cute timeslip novel that offers a cosy, wintry trip back to the reign of Charles II. Lonely Cassie has been feeding the fox cubs on the patch of waste ground outside her block of flats, even though her grumpy neighbour Mrs Morris says they’re dirty. One cub in particular is Cassie’s favourite, and she names her Frost – then one night, Frost leads Cassie out into the snow – and back into the seventeenth century! Cassie’s excited to get to experience the Frost Fairs she’s heard about, where people used to have a huge festival on the frozen-over Thames, but when she tries to get Frost back to the countryside, she starts to run into trouble.
This is a very gentle book, without too much peril or danger, and although it’s fairly long for a chapter book, it would certainly be suitable for quite young readers if they have good comprehension, or if it were read together. I liked that the Frost Fair was a very low-stakes event for Cassie to visit – it’s nice to see positive aspects of history presented in childrens’ books as well as the tendency to focus on the gross or dangerous. Family and fun were just as important in the past, and I really enjoyed the glimpses of regular people having a nice day out at the Frost Fair! The details are worked in really well, and you definitely get a sense of the holiday feeling and what sorts of excitements would have been on display.
It’s a very sweet tale, but perhaps a little bit too sweet for my tastes. The storyline about Cassie making friends with her crotchety neighbour was, to my cynical adult eye, both a bit farfetched (who’s going to allow their kid to spend time alone in a neighbour’s house, especially one who’s previously shouted at them, in this day and age?) and a bit twee (turns out she was only grumpy because she was lonely, of course) – but I appreciate that that’s not how a child would necessarily see it. I also thought, from the description, that this would be a much more historical tale with the modern part just bookending, but in fact the contemporary and historical sections have about equal page time. It works really well for getting the reader invested in Cassie, it’s just that I always want more history in my books!
Overall, this would make a very cosy winter read for any young reader who loves animals or history – perfect for curling up with on a cold winter’s day and being transported back in time. For me, it’s a three and a half cat read, but I definitely recommend it to younger readers!