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Emma Tupper's Diary    by Peter Dickinson order for
Emma Tupper's Diary
by Peter Dickinson
Order:  USA  Can
Yearling, 1988 (1971)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

Peter Dickinson has said that he writes science fiction without the science. This is usually true, and the term speculative fiction might have been coined to fit most of his works. However a few of his books come very close to SF as it is usually defined, and Emma Tupper's Diary is one of these.

Emma is fourteen years old and her parents live in Botswana, but she won a scholarship to an English school. However, it costs too much for her to go home in the holidays, so it has been arranged for her to visit cousins, members of the clan McAndrews, who live on the shore of a loch in the Scottish Highlands. Their grandfather invented a cure for baldness, and the profits provide the family income. Unfortunately, the cure only works in hot countries at altitudes over 8000 feet, which limits the wealth. He also invented and constructed a submarine to explore the loch for monsters.

Their father has had a shadowy career, (his children think he was a spy), and at present is in Geneva discussing beetles. There are three young McAndrews, Andy, Finn and Roddy who is youngest and the same age as Emma. Andy is cool and autocratic, Roddy is fiery and aggressive, and Finn is cool and agressively neutral in their battles. Also living there is beautiful and mysterious Poop Newcombe.

Emma has resolved to keep a diary of her summer holidays, and with her poetic descriptions of Highland scenery to win the School Prize, and score one off Sarah Davidson, who was spending her holidays in the Algarve, in Portugal. However, Emma's diary soon is light on scenery and heavily into action, when the McAndrews decide to fake a monster using the old submarine, to attract tourists and rival Loch Ness.

What happens next embroils Emma in hair raising and life threatening adventures, through which she must struggle to survive. At the same time, she is forced to make judgements, and take action herself, on important and debatable issues dealing with man's impact on the world he lives in. This is an enthralling book, with fascinating characters, told with humour and wit, and with a story that just might, barely, be possible.

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