This is a traditional children’s tale centred on a beach hut on the seafront at Brighton which is the doorway to another world. The Mysterious Beach Hut by Jacky Atkins is a time-travel tale in which sisters Holly and Beth find themselves on Brighton beach as England stands on the brink of the Great War. Brighton today is recognizable, but as soon as the girls step back into 1914 it is a radically different place. The costumes, the games, the speech, the West Pier in all its glory, the things that people are talking about. The sisters struggle to come to terms with what their eyes are seeing but their brains can’t process.
“Something had changed. The light was different. Just for a moment, it felt as if they were looking at a heat mirage when the bottom of the picture you see becomes slightly waxy and hazy. It was almost as if, for a split second, time had stood still.”
The sisters meet Marjorie who becomes their new best friend and guide to this strange world. But being a time-traveller is difficult. Holly, the older sister, knows something of the history of World War One from school, and finds it painful not to tell her new friends how the war turns out. Curious about Marjorie’s life, Holly and Beth go with their mother in their own time to Brighton Museum. where they meet Mr Edwards, who has a time travel tale of his own to tell.
This is a charming novel for ages 10+ which is really a detective tale involving a misplaced letter, war, death and old age, all sensitively handled. The overall message is one of hope.
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‘The Mysterious Beach Hut’ by Jacky Atkins