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Tomasina’s Twin by Sheila Lavelle, is a book that my son picked as his ‘guided free reading’ reading book to bring home from school.

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At forty seven pages, with plenty of pen and ink illustrations it is a classic chapter or transition book, although the text is rather small, and there are some pages with no illustrations where the text just seems to go on forever. My son, a pretty fluent reader for a seven year old, struggled with these pages, because he found it quite tricky to get his eye in, in terms of where he was on the page whenever he paused for a moment. As such I would recommend this for the upper level of guided readers, those children who are just about to branch out into reading freely and reading full scale novels and all that entails.

The story tells of Tomasina, whose author mother has chosen to stay in an old farmhouse for the summer holidays, craving the peace and quiet for her writing. Tomasina is not happy. There are no mod cons in the farmhouse and she is bored. She starts to behave quite badly for her mother, convinced that her tantrums will get her home.

One day, when she is exploring the attic she finds a magic mirror which turns out to contain a mirror image of Tomasina who can actually step out of the confines of the mirror and live Tomasina’s life. Tomasina’s twin is called Anisamot (Tomasina, backwards), and she delights in making trouble. Her existence having been created by an evil magician who wanted a doppel ganger to wreak havoc on his behalf.

Anisamot proves to be a nightmare, out tantrumming Tomasina and only appearing when Tomasina is not around, thus making everyone blame Tomasina for what has happened, nobody else being aware of the evil, magical twin. As an adult I could not understand here why Tomasina didn’t unmask her evil twin. After all, Anisamot didn’t come into existence because of anything Tomasina did, and it would have meant that Tomasina wouldn’t have got the blame for all the trouble Anisamot caused. Having said this, it never occurred to my son, when he was reading this story, and he was quite content with the fact that Tomasina wanted to hide Anisamot’s existence from her mother.

The rest of the story tells how Tomasina manages to defeat Anisamot.

The story is rather unresolved in moral terms, and for me, had a very weak ending indeed. Oscar however, seemed to enjoy it – which is the point of the book.

I was surprised he had picked it. It seems much more of a girl’s book than a boy’s book, although the magic and mischief in it was suitably engaging for both boys and girls.

I would recommend the book to confident readers aged seven to eleven.

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