'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 30 October 2023

Review: Ruby and the Pen

Ruby loves to draw.  Following in her artist father’s footsteps, she uses comic art as an escape from her poor relationship with her mother, Adelaide. 

She’d like to correct that problem but doesn’t know how. 

Since Ruby’s dad died four years ago, there has been a series of boyfriends in Adelaide’s life, and the current one is Dodgy Dave.

Another boyfriend, another school. Dodgy Dave has pulled strings somewhere and Ruby is now on her way to boarding school. It is his way of getting rid of the twelve-year -old as he has plenty to hide.

Ruby buys an old pen from a market stall, inscribed in Latin with the words, the future is in your hands. Seeing this as an omen, she feels optimistic about the path her life is now on.

 But nothing is as Ruby imagined.

She is constantly bullied by several teachers and her roommates, who throw her pen out of the window. Bad behaviour against Ruby continues and she can’t find support where it’s expected.

 The pen turns up in Ruby’s pencil case. It has a mind of its own and Ruby is determined to get the bullies back.

 Her drawings become real life. They help her through difficult situations but only for a while.

 When the pen gets out of control, and is no longer acting in Ruby’s best interests, she must find a way to rein it in. But the pen falls into the wrong hands.

 Many discoveries await Ruby. She uncovers Dodgy Daves connections involve personnel at the school, and secret dealings that threaten the environment, through destruction of the surrounding forest.  

 Ruby’s attempts to draw attention to the pending catastrophe sees her expelled.

Can she find a way to stop the felling of the trees to make way for a theme park?

 Will she be able to expose Dodgy Dave or revive her relationship with her mother again? Shall Ruby’s distanced friends rally around in her time of need?

 Fantastic artwork by Cherie Dignam enhances David Lawrence's story full of humour and clever prose. Xander and the Pen is Bk 2 in a highly entertaining series full of important themes.

Title: Ruby and the Pen
Author: David Lawrence
Illustrator: Cherie Dignam
Publisher: EK Books , $ 19.99
Publication Date: 5 July 2023
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781922539380
For ages: 10 – 14
Type: Middle Grade Fiction