Book Review: Harriet and the Secret Rings
Author: Debra Williams (Clewer)
Reviewer: Elizabeth Klein
As all great stories, this one begins and ends in a library and involves two children who discover something fantastical in one of the books. When Harriet and Will are set a project by their teacher to research an ancient civilisation, they get more than they bargained for when they discover three magic rings in one of the reference books that have power to transport them back in time. What child doesn’t like the idea of finding a magic ring?
The first ring—studded with green garnets—spirits Harriet (or Harry as she is sometimes referred to) away into an ancient Roman family where a slave girl piques her compassion. Together with Will, they find a marvellous way to release the slave girl who can then be reunited with her family. The next ring, made with amethysts, transports the two friends back to the Biblical days of Saint Paul and Silas who are arrested for being ‘trouble-makers’. Harriet and Will also find themselves arrested and sent to gaol where an earthquake shakes things up and they manage to escape. The last ring, made of gold and sapphires, conveys them to Sherwood Forest, where they meet Robin Hood and his merry men. Aspects of the ‘normal’ world collide with the fantastic in this section with the arrival of a red dragon and talking toadstools.
Here, the story is likened to A Christmas Carolwhen the children join with Maid Marion and the poor people to show the Sheriff all the evils that his heavy taxes have forced them to endure. Through clever trickery, they reveal how everyone is suffering because of his greed and, like Scrooge, he sets about making changes for the betterment of society.
Young children will enjoy this interesting and enjoyable book, which lends itself to many more rings, adventures and glimpses into past lives of historical legends. There are loads of ideas in library resource books for author, Debra Williams, where I’m sure she’ll catch the vague sound of whispering voices among those dusty, unopened pages.