Book review: Just not so fancy, like the Famous Five

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Originally released more than 20 years ago, Rowan Tree Publishing has reissued the late Rennie McOwan’s Clan Adventure series. Harry Wallace, 12, presents the series’ fourth book, Jewels on the Move, here.

I stood in the bookstore and wouldn’t stop reading when I began reading Light on Dumyat, even though I knew I had to, so I could actually buy it.

I’ve been lucky enough recently to be one of the first people to read Jewels on the Move, the fourth book in the Clan series by Rennie McOwan. At the bookstore, I felt the same way – I couldn’t stop reading.

The characters – Gavin, Clare, Michael and Mot – were introduced by Light on Dumyat, a group of children who call themselves the Clan Alliance and have adventures in the Scottish countryside. They’re like the Famous Five, except they’re Scottish and they’re not that posh. Gavin is an Englishman, but he’s learning about Scotland and what it is like to be part of a clan. Michael and Mot may be a little cynical about Clare because she’s their sister, and that’s funny. The characters are really real.

Kids foil silver thieves in the first book; they’re on the trail of poachers in the second book, The Story of the White Stag. By adding magic, the third book, The Day the Mountain Shifted, took a different direction and that shocked me. There were always themes of survival and the world and it went well, but it was not my favorite book in the series.

In book four, Jewels on the Move, magic and time travel continue and it is even more thrilling this time.

Clare, the clan’s chief, has a fast mind. So when she meets an unconscious girl in her pocket who has the Honours of Scotland, the Scottish crown jewels, and flees men who try to steal them, Clare realizes that the most important thing is to get to safety instead of stopping and asking questions.

One of the things about the books that I liked is that the gang leader is a female. Most books probably had male leaders when this book was written. They crack myths with these books.

I liked the fact that these books are set in Scotland and are full of Scottish data and facts, such as how and what they mean to pronounce those words. The clan’s war cry is “creag a sgairbh,” which I would never have known how to pronounce if I had not been told by the author (It is pronounced “crek-ahn-ess-garv” and means “rock of the cormorant.”)

I learned a lot about the history of the clans, and how members used to indicate which clan they belonged to with plant symbols. (I looked up at mine — I’m a Wallace, so it would be an oak leaf).

The way the kids go out of their way not to hurt the environment is one of the best things about the books – so when they create a fire, they make sure they clean up well afterwards and do not leave any garbage behind. This is an important environmental message that we all need to consider now, although these books were published many years ago.

Although you learn a lot, it doesn’t feel like homework to read these books, because they are really entertaining and enjoyable. Also the latest covers are ingenious. I liked the colors of the forest – if you left these books in the forest, they’d be camouflaged well. (Not that I will ever leave my books in a forest).

Jewels on the Move is thrilling and enjoyable. I considered the ending a little sad, but for other fans, I won’t ruin it here. I think I find it even sadder because I know there are no more Clan novels, and that’s a shame – but I know I will read these books again and again.

Rennie McOwan’s Jewels on the Move, Rowan Tree Publishing, £7.999

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