By Sophia Bennett
Published by Chicken House
ISBN 978 1 905 29498 5
Sophia Bennett's classy debut novel is aimed directly at one specific group of readers, and it hits the target smack in the middle . If you aren't a teenage fashionista with an eye on what is happening in Vogue and on the catwalk, though, then Threads is definitely not for you.
Bennett knows her target readers well, and Threads delivers a fashion fix as well as a prize-winning novel in one package. Winner of The Times Children's Fiction Competition last year, the high-fashion fairy tale is not only told with wit and affection, it's dressed to kill as well. This is the world as young fashionistas would like it to be and they will read Bennett's tale wide-eyed, no questions asked.
Nonie, Jenny and Edie are three BFF teens blessed not only with trendy names but also with a comfortable lifestyle in London, the fashion capital of the world. Nonie's mother used to be a top model and her elder brother is a handsome heart-throb out of the Zac Efron mould. Even Granny is a fashionable and interesting lady of a certain age.
Nonie loves fashion, but she doesn't always get it right and certainly doesn't have the figure for it. Jenny's father is in the theatre and Jenny has just made an impressive debut in a film starring Hollywood's Hottest Couple. But she's not going to let her success and new-found status as style-queen go to her head.
Then there is Edie, who is on a mission to save the world and stamp out injustice. Jenny and Nonie put up with Edie's social conscience even if their own minds are on other things. But it is Edie's involvement with the underprivileged that sends the storyline of Threads off in an interesting direction.
In her spare time, Edie gives reading lessons to Crow, a 12-year-old dyslexic refugee from the war-torn African country of Uganda. Crow has no money, but this doesn't stop her putting together appealing clothes for herself. There is more to little Crow than colourful thrown-together outfits, crocheted caps and angel wings. The girl has an amazing talent for drawing and designing clothes.
Threads tells the highly improbable but persuasive tale of how Nonie and her friends and family help Crow to fulfil her talent and become a runaway fashion success in a cutthroat world.
Bennett prevents the story from sinking into shallowness by skilfully mixing the themes of fashion and celebrity with Crow's traumatic background in Uganda and the ups and downs of friendship.
Threads is a frothy and fun fairy tale that will enthral young female readers until they are old enough to pay for a subscription to Vogue or do more than window shop at Gucci.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com