Books From The Pantry: The Changeling’s Child by Rachael Lindsay: Reviewed by Shannon Milsom

‘I is different, my Dear Ones,’ Hobnail agreed. ‘I strives to be different! My aunt, long time ago, is teaching me skills and magical uses for my extra fingers. She is teaching me big lots: most of alls, how to live when others wants me gone. And now I lives and lives.’

As a child, some of my fondest memories are from happy, sun-dappled afternoons spent exploring the wilderness of my garden; making glorious muddy messes and checking for treasures hidden under rocks and tucked away in crevices. A shy girl, I found companions in the animals and insects that made their home in my tiny, private jungle.  

Upon reading The Changeling’s Child by Rachael Lindsay, I was immediately transported back to that magical, childhood place. Rachael Lindsay’s writing evokes perfectly the enchantment and strange wistful wildness of nature. Laugh-out-loud funny in some parts, and touching in others, it is a perfect read for an imaginative child (or indeed, a child of any age!)

The Changeling’s Child by Rachael Lindsay tells the story of Hobnail, an ugly and unloved misfit who lives in the forest with her two ‘Dear Ones’, Warty Toad and Slimey Slug. Outcast by even her mother who thought her strange daughter to be an evil changeling fairy child, Hobnail is taught magic by her aunt and then finds herself a home in the quiet solitude of the forest with only her pets for company.

However, even in the forest there is nastiness afoot. The cunning Leaf-Man and his spies hatch a clever plan to try and get Hobnail out of the forest for good; a plan that involves a human baby.

The characters in The Changeling’s Child are engaging, funny, and have a real sense of depth to them that gives the story warmth and soul. Hobnail’s past is presented to the reader through the bedtime stories that she tells to her pets, which is a lovely and poignant touch.

Rachael Lindsay also puts lots of expressiveness into the dialogue of her characters, especially Hobnail:

‘My dears! This is no time to be larking-fun and playful in a pool! Time and the dimsk are against us. We must hurry on our way.’

I also found the exchanges between Warty Toad and Slimey Slug to be highly amusing. The two pets each jealously vie for the attention of their mistress; often trying to outdo each other in their endeavours to please Hobnail, and usually with hilarious results!  

This, as well as some beautiful descriptive writing and gorgeous illustration, really helps us, as readers, to paint a picture of Hobnail, her friends, enemies, and the enchanted, peaceful haven of the forest they all inhabit. (Although that picture could possibly be a little slimy and splattered with woodlouse jam).

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