Sparks by Ally Kennen


Written by Ally Kennen

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

The best kind of headlong, page turning adventure, Sparks races along at breakneck speed as three children set abut the audacious task of fulfilling their grandfather’s dreams by giving him a Viking funeral! Hilariously funny and also full of deeply felt emotions around the death of a much loved grandparent. How Carla organises her young siblings and a gang of friends whom she hijacks from the local carnival so that she can carry out the outrageous plot and set her grandfather’s body out to sea is a fantastical and fantastic story.

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Sparks by Ally Kennen

When Carla's beloved Grandpa dies, she is inconsolable. Then she finds a secret letter, and decides to give him the end he always wanted. A Viking funeral, in a burning boat heading out to sea. Carla and her siblings set out on a crazy and dangerous race against time to achieve the impossible. Sparks is a dark, funny and moving story about love, death, sailing and coffin-stealing from a very popular, original and award-winning children's writer. Ally Kennan is the acclaimed author of teen novels Beast , Berserk , and Bedlam . Sparks is her first book for readers of 9 and up.


'Kennen is a natural for this age group, creating characters that feel like flesh and blood people (even the corpse has a personality) and seasoning the story with a pitch-perfect blend of humour, adventure and emotion.' The Telegraph

Review of ‘Sparks’ by Books for Keeps [5 stars]

This quirky little gem of a book, with its intriguing subtitle ‘How to give Grandpa a Viking funeral’ perfectly illustrates the maxim that anything is possible with sufficient determination and resourcefulness. The most powerful motivation behind this particular triumph is Carla’s love for her Grandpa Magnus, who left her a letter telling her of his secret dream of a Viking funeral and made her feel she could do ‘this amazing thing, but not on her own’. The odds seem stacked against her – she’s only a child, she must break the law, she must work in secret as her mother, ragged with grief, is determined to organise a conventional, staid funeral for her father.

What follows is a touching story, rooted in realism, fraught with moral dilemmas and physical hardship, but one which gradually brings together all those who loved and respected Magnus and were determined that his send-off should have nothing to do with sterile convention but everything to do with honouring a man’s last and deepest desire. Carla is guided by her Grandpa’s voice, which never leaves her and the final chapter unites Grandpa’s friends and family in an act of homage and a knowledge that ultimately, what really matters is the connection between people, not the laws which seek to manage them.

About the Author

Ally Kennen

Ally Kennen comes from a proud lineage of bare-knuckle boxers, country vicars and French aristocracy.

She grew up in an isolated farm on Exmoor, with no flushing toilet, dead tadpoles in the taps, and annual rat infestations. The farm was a foster home to many children and teenagers. Ally has worked as a classroom assistant, nursery nurse, museum guard and archaeologist. She is also a professional singer.

Ally lives in Somerset with her husband, small daughter, smaller son and baby four chickens and a curmudgeonly cat. No woman has ever beaten Ally in an arm wrestle.

In Her Own Words:

“I grew up on a small organic farm on Exmoor. My parents still farm cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys and ducks. I have one brother. My parents fostered children for many years, from when I was about three or four till I was thirteen. They started again when I was eighteen and fostered for another five or six years.

"When I was young, we farmed dairy cows, which make a lot of mess. There is half a mile of muddy road up to the school bus stop. In school assemblies I would usually leave a small pile of dried mud in my place, which I had picked off my shoes. In winter, my school uniform smelled of smoke because it had dried over the fire. We had an outdoor loo, called an earth closet, which had no flush. You had to do what you did, then cover it up with sawdust. When I was eight, we got a flushing loo which I thought was deeply sophisticated (though once I did fall in the septic tank!).

"There were no shops, pubs or buses (except the school bus) and hardly any people. As a child, I spent a lot of time on my own, reading, playing in the mud, building dams and messing around the farm. I was always scruffy and sadly I still am! At school I liked writing stories and liked the idea of being an author, but I also wanted to be a runner, an archaeologist and a naturalist.”

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Book Info




Ally Kennen
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Marion Lloyd Books an imprint of Scholastic

Publication date

5th April 2010




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