Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall

Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall

Judges' Comments

Twelve-year-old Iris is despatched to Spain for a short holiday, instructed by her parents to size up the circumstances of her elderly Aunt Ursula, including any intentions she may have regarding her estate, Bosque de Nubes, or ‘Forest of Clouds’. Iris has never met anyone quite like Aunt Ursula, who lives in a rambling mansion with a small household of quirky staff. At first bemused by her aunt’s eccentricities, Iris quickly becomes intrigued and beguiled by her and by the family secrets that slowly emerge.

Surrealist art, with its sense of mischief and illusion, plays a central part in this captivating and well-paced story. In Iris, Leanne Hall has created a strong and hugely likeable character whose relationship with the redoubtable Aunt Ursula is nicely developed, as is the friendship between Iris and Jordie — the best sort of friend any child could hope to meet while on holiday. This is a heart-warming story in which the reader ultimately has every faith that Iris — loyal to her aunt and to what is right in the world — will call out the chicanery of others and safeguard the future of Bosque de Nubes.

Iris and the Tiger is a memorable read about a memorable holiday. It reveals important truths about friendship, families and the richness of living in worlds of art and creativity. Humour, mystery and suspense weave their way through the text from the perspective of an engaging and thoroughly realistic young protagonist.