Lucy Bee and her mother travel to France for a family reunion. Her grandmother had married a Kiwi soldier after the war and the Kiwi side of the family are keen to connect with their French relatives. Unfortunately, not all goes to plan. Gamma has suffered a stroke and cannot travel to France, and early in the holiday, Lucy Bee’s mother breaks her leg.
The reader cannot help but admire Lucy Bee who has to cope with being in a foreign country with people she hasn’t met before and trying to communicate with her smattering of French. Her cousin Jean Luc is one minute friendly and the next surly and stand-offish. Lucy Bee wonders if it’s her fault. Then she discovers an injured Afghani refugee boy, Qasim, and her compassion motivates her to secretly help him, despite family opposition and prejudice towards refugees. The story does not get political but gently highlights the issue of war and killing as Qasim’s background story comes out.
Anne Ingram packs so much into this story. The byline on the front cover: "Just what is going on in this little French village?" hints at the mystery woven into the plot. Artworks have been stolen and it seems easy to blame the refugees. There are also lovely depictions of French culture, countryside and chateaus with some French history thrown in. Some French language is contained in the story, but often it’s translated and there is a helpful glossary of French words and phrases at the back of the book.
For children aged 9 to 14 who enjoy mystery, travel or stories about family and relationships, I’d recommend this book.
Title: Bon Jour Lucy Bee
Author: Anne Ingram
Publisher: One Tree House
Date of Publication: 2019
Reviewer: Nova Gibson, Library Manager, Massey Primary School
How highly are you recommending this book? Recommended
First sentence: I woke with something tickling my face.