Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick

In primary school, Year 6 residential is a rite of passage. Every child waits for this very special adventure with anticipation, excitement and a little bit of fear. There is always a ghost story to go with it – a frightening tale passed on by older children who have been there and lived to tell it. The story of Crater Lake is the birth of one such tale: a perfect mix of horror and humour designed to make every child waiting for their Year 6 residential feel ever so slightly nervous.

Crater Lake has all the features of a typical Year 6 school trip: eating cookies on the coach, nicknames, jokes, their own version of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” (Geek, Robot, Overlord) and plans for a midnight feast. The light-hearted attitude of ten and eleven-year-olds carries the story along with cultural references both adults and children will enjoy – Jurassic Park, Goosebumps, Bear Grylls… all of these combine to create a fantastically terror-filled recipe for a science fiction adventure!

The trip starts out normally enough. The Year 6 cohort from Montmorency Primary are on their way to Crater Lake, a brand new adventure centre. Suddenly, their coach slams to a halt as they come across a strange, blood-covered man in the road. Is he a zombie? Is he an alien? Is he dead? Who is he and what is he trying to tell them? His warnings are garbled and unclear. From that moment on, things don’t seem quite right. Lance and the other children sense something is wrong and this isn’t going to be an ordinary school residential.

Over the next few days, the children rely on their wits, things they’ve learned from tv and video games, and teamwork to make it through. Along the way, they discover the truth about each other and come to understand that everyone has secrets but real friends will always understand. Author Jennifer Killick has perfectly captured the personality of Year 6 – the alliances, friendships, fallouts, fears, hopes and the importance of finding out who you really are as you move on to the scary world of secondary school. The children from Crater Lake will never be the same but they move on to their next adventure knowing they can survive anything!

A huge thank you to Amy Kitcher and Firefly Press for this copy of Crater Lake! It was published in March 2020.

Click on the cover below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

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