"It's the ghost bell," Wiri whispered. "It's bad luck, they reckon."
"What kind of bad luck?" asked Rona.
"They say when the bell rings, someone's going to die..."
Not what Rona wants to hear when her father's lying critically ill in hospital. But when Wiri finds an old mariner's diary, which gives clues to the source of the ghost bell, Wiri and Rona go searching for it - with dangerous consequences. Perhaps the bell isn't tolling for her father at all.
This is the second revised edition of The Shearwater Bell, originally published in 1997.
The Shearwater Bell is a distinctly New Zealand story, though this fact is only mentioned explicitly about 3/4 of the way through the story. That was something I loved about the book. It was really engrossing to explore the old diary of someone who had been shipwrecked here and even more so seeing it through the eyes of these two intelligent and interesting children. Wiri and Rona are eager to explore the past, searching the diary for clues regarding the mysterious ghost bell and, of course, the treasure.
Suitable for both boys and girls from about nine or ten up; this book has no scary or inappropriate moments but is a little big for the younger children to read for themselves.
All up, I think this is one of the better children's books I have read recently. It is sadly common for authors to be a little preachy or condescending when writing for the child audience, but Margaret Beams has crafted an excellent adventure with 'the Shearwater Bell', which will carry even an adult reader through to its exciting conclusion.
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